Saturday, 12 May 2012

Ars confundum

I really don't like Notting Hill. I'm sure lots of people love it, but after the joys of Bloomsbury, Covent Garden and Fitzrovia I am positively culture deprived. Which makes a nice change from me being generally depraved. But I needed to find at least some art, something new. And interesting. And that would challenge me.

Something to make me think.

More importantly, something within about 20 minutes of my client's dungeon so that I could get there, ponder and get back without upsetting them. On my flatmate's sagely advice I checked Time Out London to see what was near. And on today. Oh, and free. Obvs.

Three things came back, well, four, but two of those were for the same venue, so I picked the furthest one and headed in the general direction of the underground for a quick scoot round to Edgeware Road station.

My destination: The Showroom on Penfold Street.

Which looked closed, if the truth be told. But no! I had to ring a little bell and somebody (eventually) emerged and let me in to the gloom of a darkened studio. This was no white cube gallery.

From the title, The Artist Talks (2012), I couldn't completely, or at all, work out what it was about. I had a vague notion, but nothing too well formed...

...Which, as it turned out was probably right. The description of the work by Sarah Pierce was pretty stark
Installation (stage, felt curtains, boxes, props, spot lights, photographs, gel filters)
And that did pretty much sum it up. Visually. Reading through the blurb I discovered...

Pierce repositions the convention of the artist's talk as an open system with the potential to disturb or re-invent past artworks and received ideas.

Eh? But before you think I am about to launch in to a diatribe on this new rendition of the Emperor's new clothes I should say this. I found it, actually, quite soothing. As I said to my flatmate later, I'd gone in off the scale angry after a RBT (row by text) with my nearly-ex, but by the time I left I was feeling quite serene.

As much as visually it consisted of a small plywood stage with some hanging felt curtains to give the space form, it felt almost womb like. Maybe it was the warmth, maybe the warm glow from the gel covered lights. I don't know. It certainly had a delicious stillness that was exaggerated by the felt curtains as they blocked views and absorbed any latent sounds.

The centre piece was no less simple. A screen on to which was projected a looped video showing artists talking about their works, the transpiration, the issues and so on. What was really fascinating was how the camera kept getting slightly bored and would wander off to look at some other aspect, such as the artist having a scratch, or focus on the paisley print of their short. It was slightly surreal. But also, honest.

Devoid of overt polish and yet giving a keen impression of listening to an artist giving a talk to an audience and being subtly aware of their every move and nuance. It was quite an engaging experience.

As I read the blurb I found that there was to be a final event in June. During this there would be a choreographed artist talk, a group performance, using fragments and gestures from past artworks. Oh, that doesn't make much sense. But I can sort of see where they are going. Quite whether I will actually make it along on the 2nd of June is another matter. I may end up being quite disappointed and find it really was the Emperor's new clothes.

It achieved my main objective, the exhibition made me think. Maybe even if it was to think about what on earth it was meant to represent. It wasn't in the least bit the easiest thing to follow or interpret and, needless to say, I didn't see the whole thing, just the stage setting, if you like. Sometimes there really is nothing quite like the insane, simple, delicate and sublime:

The art of confusion.

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