Visual art exhibitions and events with a platform for critical writing
9 September 10 October
I am now the tenth person to have seen Jordan Basemans video I Hate Boston, Boston Hates Me, and I found it gentler and more ambiguous than press reports had led me to believe. The wife of the artist quipped that if it had been called Welcome to Boston no one would have taken any notice of it. That doesnt mean it isnt good. There isnt space here to go into the many and fascinating complications of recent events. One of the big issues here is the role of the national press. None of the people who have written about or publicly commented on this film have seen it. Some have heard an audio extract, originally played on Radio 4s Farming Today.
Baseman himself comments: A headline like Artists race hate video divides troubled town (Daily Telegraph) is loaded and its absurd and none of it comes from me and that kind of reporting incites trouble. Of all the journalists who spoke to Baseman and they include journalists from the broadsheets, BBC Lincolnshire, the World Service, Channel 4 and ITV not one asked if they could see the seven-minute video, subsequently withdrawn by the artist.
A Portuguese womans voice is heard over a shot of farmland in which the only thing moving is a St Georges flag flapping in the wind. Most memorably she comes across as someone trying to take a dignified response to insults meted out by a local man on her young daughter. She is clearly making an effort to tell the unexaggerated truth of her experiences. But it isnt a simple narrative. Baseman adds: The comment I was trying to make is that none of this is simple and it is peoples lives. Her description of her experience is immensely complicated.
It would be a shame if local funders lost their nerve and withdrew funding from the excellent Beacon art project which consists of a coach tour of local sites of historical interest, in which contemporary artists place work.
Respect is due to Chief Inspector of Police Paul Elliot who made a carefully worded statement (quoted in the Boston Standard), in which I hear the implication that whatever problems there may be in Boston (three years ago there were race riots) jabbing them with a stick wont help. This is a very reasonable point, and one for everyone concerned.
Beacon has been a popular event intelligent and well meaning. The Chief Inspector has, Im told, been very supportive, and as sure as the sparks fly upward, hes not one looking to make trouble.
Baseman adds: Its so disturbing that this little video, which is so quiet, has had this effect. Indeed.
I was unable to see three of the performances (Gitte Bog, Lucy Clout and Melissa Bliss). Of what I did see, the best piece at this years Beacon was Lorrice Douglass performance, Interlude (thats how I see it its not really a performance). This had that rare thing: perfection. Douglas stood on a low table in a village hall, face to the corner, so still, that some of the coach trippers thought she was a mannequin, and that her assistant (Margaret Pracy), who was sewing the hem of her toile dress, was the artist. Nearby Methodist organist Mary Mackinder played He who would valiant be; she had the advantage of a strong physical presence. But the piece not only had structure and tension and attention to detail, but also a sense of something genuine driving its three or four possible meanings. Its ambiguity was lucid: it showed a skeletal grammar of social relations, and a picture of the wait and preparation for a performance (on stage, or social a wedding, possibly).
I liked the addition of new explanatory panels at Bolingbroke Castle, detailing the construction and contents of Jennie Savages flat, and hence her own personal history. What are any of our personal histories worth, and what is the precise worth of the history of Bolingbroke Castle and its inhabitants, except that they had power? Politics of a sort then; it was pitched nicely and was utterly clear.
Beacon was otherwise a quiet affair, with floral pattern drawings in dust (Catherine Bertola), a video of fields with artist walking (Jane Porter), a slide show of the wilds of Iceland (Roy Voss). Adele Prince ran the ninety-one miles from Nottingham to Grantham in four days, and videoed the roads. No local papers asked if it was art: they wholeheartedly supported it. Lucy Gibsons piece involved MP3 players on the coach, relating a story again ambiguous about travelling through the landscape.
The Unison convener I met on the coach said to me, everything is political. Its interesting that its politics which has caused the trouble here. This is true, and art cannot pretend to be apolitical. We need political art.
Reading Room and Chapel, High Street, Wellingore LN5 0HW
No one has commented on this article yet, why not be the first?
To post a comment you need to login