Throwback Thursday (to a piece of me I desperately miss)

A couple of things have inspired this post. Firstly, I'm hearing a lot of talk about people starting uni at the moment, and it made me think back to when D and I left for uni (a terrifying) 8 years ago. The photo on the right is the day we moved into our tiny student house, aged 18 and 20! Even scarier is that the photo on the left was the day we left, more than four years ago now! So much has changed in those four years, and it's gone quicker than any other period of my life I think (one of the most obvious changes is that I'm about three stone lighter than I was when we left much pasta and sitting on my bum!)    

The other thing that made me feel the need to right this was reading blog post comments, and clicking through various people's blogger profiles, having a nose at who they follow. Somehow I stumbled upon a very old blog of my own called "Why We Ask You Not To Touch." I wrote it as part of my fine art degree and it was intended as a place to reflect on the way art is exhibited, and how this affects the way the audience perceive it. The hilarious thing is that I HATED the idea of writing a blog! I was all for "real life interactions" and found the idea of sitting at a computer writing about art rather than talking to someone about it, or handwriting a journal, completely abhorrent! How things have changed! Actually, when you read some the (few) posts I wrote, you can hear in my writing tone that my opinion of the medium is changing, and I think it was fairly soon after completing this degree module that I started blogging in my spare time. Here's a cringeworthy quote from my old self about my my change of opinion..

I have learned quite a lot from this short module. One thing is that I should really stop being so stubborn and defensive all the time, and give things a chance to grown on me before I start slating them. I have also learned that it is ok to write in an informal way sometimes. I think this is another of my pre-conceptions which is not necessarily correct; I always imagine that people who do art courses are looked down on as being less academic than those who do traditional English/maths/science degrees, and I have always tried to fight this off; refusing to consider ever asking for essay writing help and writing in full structured sentences all the time. I have realised however that my remonstrances of ‘but I got 2 A’s in English at school, I’m not stupid’ are actually ridiculous, and I have enjoyed writing in this informal style as it is nice sometimes to be able to say ‘I like this because I just do!’ without having to justify yourself or reference anything.

Oh dear. Listen to me going on!

There are actually some posts on there worth reading though, and some of them actually made me get a bit teary and nostalgic. I loved studying art so much, and the more time that passes the more I think about who I was back then and how many of the things that used to put fire in my belly I've forgotten about. I used to love nothing more than going to an exhibition and getting that feeling of wanting to scream because it was so inspiring and I couldn't ever find the words to describe the euphoria...other than "Rahhhhhhh I love this so much, do you get it? "You really get it? "Can you feel it too? Do you love it too? Rahhhhhhh!"

Here is one of the posts that is semi-worth reading, I had to replace all the images because they had all become little question marks...


Perhaps Nothing, Perhaps Something

"Minimalism is a medium in which the form is daringly reduced to next-to-nothing. Yet there's another art form, represented here, in which the subject is so condensed it points to a haunting vacuity. The human psyche abhors a vacuum, and is automatically inclined to people absences with imagined presences. Rachel Whiteread's sculptures, with their cast solidification of in-between places, fit the role perfectly. House and home are also exploded in a piece by Cornelia Parker, a suspended composition of bricks eroded by the sea. And, as always, Paul Rooney charms with his sound meditations on the poetics of boredom" 
(Clark, R. (2009) Exhibition preview: Perhaps Nothing, Perhaps Something, Leeds. Online on 3/04/09) 

I went down to the Leeds Met Gallery to see the Perhaps Nothing, Perhaps Something show. A lot of people have commented on it, and how it felt a bit pretentious, but I didn't think so. I was a bit surprised at the way I was told, very forcefully that I was not to touch because the work was very fragile, to which I said "Yes, of course" but to which I felt like saying "Well yes, I'm not completely stupid".  But then I thought, maybe it's not obvious you can't touch this work, after all, Rachel Whiteread's 'Untitled (6 Spaces) are very sturdy looking resin which look, and seem as though you should be able to sit on them, and Parker's suspended piece 'Neither from nor Towards' looks fairly sturdy (although my first comment was "imagine what a nightmare it would be if all the strings got tangled!")

Cornelia Parker - 'Neither from nor Towards' (Image from here)    

Rachel Whiteread - 'Untitled -Six Spaces" (Image from here)

As for the aesthetic appeal of the gallery I wasn't particularly impressed. The front of the shelves had been taped messily, and the wooden dowels holding Paul Rooney's sound piece "Words and Silence" were wonky and uneven.  Obviously I can understand that this is a gallery in a university, not the Tate Modern, but they are showing well known works from prestigious artists and I didn't feel they were shown off in the way they deserved to be. 

I wondered weather it would really matter if any if the pieces of work were touched. I would be quite interested to see what happened to Whiteread's piece was made interactive, and the audience were allowed to sit on it, or run their hand over the top surface. 

I really loved Chris Wright's work 'This is The Place Where', which is five photographic lights shining onto one point on the floor. The Leeds Met Publication says:

"There is something missing in Chris Wright's work This is the place where. Photographic lights are normally used to highlight a subject or product to make it seem more appealing. The fact that these lights are set up for that purpose but are then thwarted by not having a subject explores the value of nothing in a commodity led society. The circle of light works in a sculptural way, the viewer can enter the space but there is a perceived barrier, an in between space."

Chris Wright - 'This is The Place Where'

I was really struck by the "perceived barrier" that appears around the work. I felt really awkward standing in the circle of light, almost like I had climbed on top of a sculpture and jumped up and down on it. It was a bit disconcerting to feel this awkward when standing  in what is essentially just a spotlight. There was a couple standing looking at the piece with me, and when I stepped into the light, the woman's intake of breath said quite clearly that she expected lazer beams to shoot across the room and arms security to start swarming around me. It was intersting to view a piece of interactive art that involves to physical touching, no leaving a mark or contributing to the work. My presence didn't affect the work at all, but the reaction of the audience and the awkwardness of not knowing whether or not you could step into the light became much more important than the work itself.


There we have it. The grammar is questionable and it doesn't make an awful lot of sense...but it's sparked something in me, reminded me a little of a person I really loved being!  

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