Over the last year I have become increasingly disillusioned with spin: over-blown, uber-awesome events or works dripping with positive press and lip-service that don’t live up to the hype. This applies to other spheres of life too, most obviously is the massive u-turn by the Lib-Dem’s since they coalitioned. What can you believe?
It’s hard to find the balance right? Because you need to get the word out, and you want to convince an audience to make the trip, but go on too much and you just seem arrogant and self-aggrandising.
I still get stuck in the trap of being overly impressed with the sound of exhibitions/events/commissions/CV’s, but am slowly coming to realise that there (mostly) is no secret ingredient that I am not seeing – it just is what it is. For this reason, I absolutely do not read blurbs before I have looked at the work – because I am utterly seduced by words and the imagery they evoke.
Take Laura Belem’s work at Liverpool Biennial – it photographed beautifully, I mean so beautifully that it looked like an airy glass dream in the press shots. The description was a bit melty and lovely too as the work is based on an ancient legend. On seeing the work, I was completely underwhelmed – big black speakers filling my eyes and there was a teeny step all round that I kept stubbing my toe on or falling off a bit. The space was fairly small so it involved neck-cricking to look up above at the work and I couldn’t help wondering why the bells didn’t make a noise. Infact, they weren’t actually bells, they were just the cup of a bell without a clapper to make a noise. It’s like the difference between a book and a tablet – fundamental. Anyway, it was just a bit ruined by the oohing and ahhing going on in the press. Instead I was completly blown away by Danika Dakic’s film in the Cathedral. Dark, dank and claustrophobic, it felt ten times more powerful than Belem’s work and I couldn’t help wondering if this was to do with my own expectation rather than the work itself.
Things to remember for 2011 #1 Just spend the time getting on with making the work and leave the advertising and prmoting as a firm second (or third, or fourth).
It is also for this reason that I always include all my crap jobs (including a stint in a chicken factory) since graduating when I am talking to students. Best that they know the truth and expect some graft and hardship – after all, my CV could be read as a pain-free semi-glossy career if you don’t read between the lines and int the omissions. So many omissions!