Friday, 2 March 2012

If art hangs in a gallery but no one sees it; is it art?

The AV Festival has started, a month long programme of exhibitions, screenings and activities. Today I attended the launch of Mirror Neurons at the National Glass Centre.

There's some fab work to see, Thomson & Craigheads Several Interuptions is a hypnotic tryptic of videos taken from youtube of people holding their breath under water, it has that dreamlike rubber-necking quality that so much social-media based work transmutes.

Then there's Catherine Richard's I was scared to death/I could have died of Joy which made me uncomfortably aware of my own physcality. But what I really need to talk about is Simon Pope's Recall from Memory the Space of Another Gallery.

If I'm understanding Pope's intention it was to form the same set of thoughts as Scott Roger's Between Nonesuch Place which had a lot to do with perpetual motion, energy sources and such. Where Roger's had an impossible product, Pope had an intangible exhibition.

Pope's space holds nothing, but some very nice ladies, who talked to me about other exhibitions I'd been to. Now, from the press release I see I was supposed to 'walk them through' a space I'd been in where as I actually talked them through a space. It was a nice chat, but I was left feeling a little like I'd been shown the Emperor's new clothes and wasn't appreciating them fully.

Some of the problem is that I'm 22 now, and we all get a bit more right-wing in our old age, so some of me was worrying about what the reaction to it would be. Part of me was thinking "This could be written on a card and be the same." And it could.

Imagine an exhibitin you've been too. Walk around a space as if you're there.

Done. So, is Pope's work a literal waste of space? No. Because I'm talking about an exhibition I've been to. When was the last time I did that? But, Grayson Perry said something like 'a good idea doesn't make good art' and I feel like that's where the piece falls down. If Pope's point is to show us how an audience in an exhibition is like fuel then it's not enough, because we're doing all the work, I want work that makes me marvel at someone else's creation. But I understand that that already means you can count me with the passe watercolours.

Take the lovely Megan Randall her new work uses the audience as both fuel and content. The show runs at the National Glass centre until the 20th of May, I urge you to go.

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