Tuesday, July 19, 2011

not until after tomorrow, after the show...

Sure has been awhile, hasn't it? This lonely little blog just sort of appeared and faded away... Suppose it's time to shake things up around here again. I'll just make myself comfortable first with a little Talking Heads...

This question of what happens "after the show" is rather open, don't you think? As an independent curator it crosses my mind every time I'm working on an exhibition. Inevitably I wonder, what will happen after the show closes, what becomes of all it contained, and what will I do next? Sometimes I go the super-optimistic Jay Z route and get pumped up with that fearless, "I can't be stopped cos I have the balls to follow through with all these ideas that bust loose from my own bad ass practice and challenge everything that's been done in this whole art game thing so yeah obvs I'm on to the next one and it's going to be even better than that last thing I did and totally rule your face with mindblowing awesomeness so eat that and like it" attitude (not going to lie, this tune and its implications for working in the world of contemporary art were brought up in conversation by Derek Liddington, though I'm not claiming this is how he applies it to his own practice, phrased this immodestly, nor will I suggest that he secretly raps along when no one's looking, like I do, for that matter).

Most other times, such as now when I'm on the very precipice of closing, or even opening, another show (which, is, uh, not until after tomorrow, btw) and peering into what seems like a giant chasm of unknowns, my thoughts are going in the same general direction as this narrative Spalding Gray's character in True Stories (perhaps self-deceivingly, see below) presents. He mixes up this question of "after the show" with a complex string of associated euphemisms: the edge of civilization, the end of the world, an imaginary landscape...In clumsily reductive terms, what I initially get out of this is essentially: "Yeah, things are ending, but hey, other things are beginning, too. Cool, huh?" Thinking about an exhibition’s end point as starting point is a way to see fresh possibilities for this moment in time and space. After the show - that chasm of unknowns - is like territory that's been razed by some event of apocalyptic proportions, but because of this new life is able to proliferate. It's a great metaphor, and even though I'm not exactly prepared to talk about zombies right now just let me say that it weren’t for no reason I named my cat Phoenix, fyi. Rising from the ashes. Life coming out of death. Transformation. David Altmejd being my favourite...Yes, you have to move onwards if there's going to be a "next one".. And yet..

I kind of want to use the critical implications of this video as framework to briefly venture into thinking about exhibition making in the same terms as the failed suburban dream. If we take the exhibition (before, during, after) as a place of potential, the unknown, the space created to dream and conceptualize, does this implicate it as being an alienated, anti-social space, uncaring and cut off from active participation in the world? Can we even go so far as thinking of exhibition as a form of delusion?

Okay, whoa! You know what? I'm not ready to go there. That's a rather cynical, ungenerous perspective, and does a huge disservice to the work of arts practitioners and audiences' engagement with art, so I'm going to leave that route alone for the time being! I love art. I can't live without it. The closest comparison I can draw to seeing art at a good museum or artist's studio is like lying on a beach at night near a quiet lake and witnessing the entire galaxy sparkling above you. It's a fucking beautiful thing. You feel elevated and crushed at the same time, knowing you're part of a brilliant universe and yet realizing you really don't have the ability to fully fathom where the hell you are at all. Being here transports you somewhere else. Not much else out there that provides experiences like that. So instead I'll argue from the other direction, countering with the idea of exhibition indeed as dwelling place, yet prone to spontaneous transversal excursions that support and/or stimulate new, unexpected yet relational thoughts and experiences. ie, check the rockin' group of random kids a'singing and a'dancing in the as-yet-undeveloped field. It’s someplace where you can be free to play, to dream, to dissent... You might want to bring a goat, too.

Alright, yes, so, as I have alluded, I do have a new show coming up very soon. Called Meet us on the commons. Happening at the Art Gallery of Mississauga. Runs July 21-September 11. Very excited for it, very grateful for the opportunity and having the chance to show lots of really beautiful, challenging works by artists I have a great deal of love and respect for. Will dedicate another post to it shortly.

I’ll wrap up by saying that this blog will remain active as place for me to present my projects and continue to explore them even after they have reached some institutional standard of finitude. The idea of "after the show" makes me uncomfortable. Being so intensely close to a project for so long, I'm reluctant to totally let go of it. Recently awakening to the fact that Meet us on the commons will eventually end, I strangely began to grieve the loss of the exhibition. It hasn’t even opened yet, and already I worry, after the show, what remains? I'm not just going to stop thinking about it entirely. The essay is published but it doesn’t go into the level of depth I’m happy with. So what if I want to dwell on it for a bit longer? Stay in that imaginary landscape? What do I do if there are perspectives, works, ephemera, fragments of visual culture, etc, that I discover later on that are relevant to it? Experiences that evoke and deepen the beauty and insight the artworks hold? Blah blah blog about it! For now, anyway. We’ll see what happens next. Until then…

Love to the universe


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