Thursday, June 22, 2006


Initially I think I like pretty much everything here. And this is generally what I tend to think whenever I come to Curatorspace, a gallery which is carving out a reputation from some interesting work. So that's good, I think, looking round 'Q', the show opening tonight. But then, on reflection, each work here seems intent on pressing its palm down on the old fashioned bell in my mind marked 'Why?' And it all goes slightly awry. Take, for example, this work I'm standing in front of by Dermot O'Brien (above). It's a series of small triangular pieces of paper stuck directly onto the gallery wall in a grid pattern. Now, I know from the press release that these pieces of paper are corners cut from books that Dermot owns. But the release fudges it a bit with the details. I'm not sure, for instance, if these are the corners from all the books he owns or a certain selection. I'm also unsure if these are all the corners from page three of each volume. Certainly the number three appears on some of them, but not many. And the triangles are different angles. Why is that, then? Is that to do with the relative size and proportions of each individual page? Or not? Why the grid? Why the corners in the order that they are in? Why not in a line? Why not by size? Why triangles? Why? Why? WHY? And on and on. The problem being, of course, was that I was drawn to this work thinking that there was something here that I liked. Seduced by the varying shades and textures of the paper, the form and the organisation. But then, well, it just started making me ask questions. And I rarely look at anything that makes me ask those sorts of questions. There's another piece by Chong Boon Pok in the back which is a film of the surface of a canal. I realise when I'm looking at this that things are going wrong because I start thinking, ok, fine, but this is just like looking at the water in a canal. I've done that myself. Loads of times. Water's great for looking at like that. So why should I have to stand in a gallery and watch a video of it. And, quite frankly, I rarely have surly thoughts like this about any art. I'm picturing myself by this point as a snotty little schoolboy, hands in pockets, head down, dragging my feet, following the rest of the class at a distance, risking trouble with teacher. I also read about Gary O'Connor recreating a familiar scent in the gallery 'aiming to provoke a certain feeling in the viewer'. Viewer, I think? Of a smell? I sniff the air. Can't smell a thing. Nothing at all. Not a whiff of anything. Bizarrely, not even what private views usually smell of. (Private views have a smell, Russ? You sure about that?). Then I'm thinking about that video of the canal again and thinking that maybe if I watched it a bit longer then maybe something would come into view. Well, yeah, maybe, maybe not, I think. If someone one day would ever have the bright idea of putting a running time on a video piece I should be ever so grateful...might even stay and actually watch a video piece....
And don't get me started about Mary Yacoob's ballpoint pen wall drawing.
I drink a beer. Take a few photos. Try and wonder a bit more positively about the work here. Wonder too, what went wrong with me? And so early in the evening too.
And so I leave, confused about what I've just seen.
Sometimes it's good to come away from a gallery having been faced with lots of questions. Just not the ones I faced, though.
Anyway, a quick nip into Rocket in the Tea Building, always a bit old fashioned for me but we have a look around. There's a big 10 year round up of work by Michelle Grabner. There's about a hundred and fifty works in the first part of the gallery so absolutely impossible to get a fix, but at the back the works are more spaced out and more recent and I really like them. Big black canvases with a single dot of paint daubed one after the other from the centre outwards in a huge spiral. Meaningless and tedious and captivating and beautiful. Relaxing and energising. Nice.
Then upstairs to Andrew Mummery who's moved across the hallway to occupy the space at 102.
It's a group show and we have a snoop around. At various points tonight I'm with Ben Woodeson and I'm with him here when we meet Bev Bytheway who Ben says is New Contemporaries. A woman of interest, then, certainly. Also one who sees everything in terms of names and dates. She's talking about people - 2004, in the show and so...2001... and so on....
We ask Andrew Mummery for a press release. He waves both his hands around his head in a throwaway gesture like he's appearing in a farce: 'there's no press release: it's a group show, it's a group show, there's no press release' and then he's off, waving his hands some more about something else.
I also remember that we are at the start of the round of summer group shows that galleries now start filling themselves with, like market stalls. It will be interesting to see what comes up over the next few months...
It's too hot in Mummery's new gallery so we head off to Redux on Commercial Street. A rent rise has forced its closure after only three years and tonight is a party, film screening and launch of new magazine Talking Cities. I see a few faces there I know.
Dallas Seitz is there and I nag him about getting on his mailing list - I haven't had anything from him and I gave him my card months ago, surely. 'Have I got your card?, he asks, shuffling through his wallet. He flicks through a wad of about a thousand cards. Finally he gets down to mine. I point it out. He takes it out and puts it into a journal he's carrying. I'm not sure what this signifies. I have moved, maybe somewhat imperceptibly, up his list. To yet another list, maybe, before I reach the actual mailing list...
Other people are there too, mostly people I don't know but who have supported Redux over its short life a lot more than I ever did. I drink a couple of beers, pick up a copy of Talking Cities, flash a few photos in the darkness and decide to leave this party to other people...
Goodbye Redux.
evening pics


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