I am really pleased with how the Ljusfältet evening here at Wip:konsthall turned out – a good and fitting start to the New Year! The whole idea of doing something in early January is appealing; something to mark the arrival of the new year, a pleasurable way to re-engage with work after the holidays, the opportunity to catch-up with colleagues and …
The evening worked really well: the discussion was interesting and stimulating for both the speakers and the audience – it ran over by half an hour and continued informally afterwards; the gallery version of the installation looked good – the possibility and potential to make non-site specific versions of site specific work is something that I have wanted to develop for some time now and this was a great opportunity to see how it could be done and how the work can work in new ways; people responded really well to the booklet – there is something (perhaps something a little more intimate) about reading words on a page of a book that is very different from reading the same words on the wall of a gallery; keeping the look of the show simple seemed to create space for thoughts, ideas and discussion – which for me is really important; and not least the evening brought together a diverse group of people – the subject under discussion (the future of open and public spaces in the city) brought in a far wider audience than often come to exhibitions at Wip:konsthall.
Thinking around the idea of in-between space in both preparation for and after the discussion has raised a lot of questions for me and has led to interesting and intense conversations with friends and other artists at the studios. One subject that keeps coming up in various ways is the seemingly relentless pursuit of, and faith in, financial capital. Perhaps it is not surprising that artists find this difficult, especially artists with practices that are not solely commercial. Art can offer alternative value systems – how to do this in such image saturated and possession obsessed cultures appears to be a very pertinent question. It occurred to me that my avoidance of image and advertising loaded mass media could be part of my personal strategy for enabling me to see the art when I visit galleries and museums. As the in-between spaces in our towns and cities, as well as people’s mobile phones and social media networks, become more and more drenched in advertisements with their demand to buy, their insidious message that we are always lacking, is it any wonder that people do not know how to relate to (art) images which invite them to think differently, to contemplate something, to simply enjoy the image for what it is. Before the panel discussion I had not heard about São Paulo’s city wide ban on billboards – the conservative Mayor leading the campaign and calling them “visual pollution”, apparently the result has been hugely successful – it’s certainly something I am going to follow up!
It feels as though the evening was not only good for me but also good for the exhibition space. People’s enthusiasm for more discussions and events that give an exhibition additional dimensions is certainly something that could be developed as a core part of the exhibition space’s future programme.
Birgitta and I were not the only ones to kick off the New Year with something exciting. Last night the contemporary galleries in the Hudiksvallsgatan area of the city all opened with new shows. These evenings when the galleries open together are always enjoyable and last night there was a definite sense of excitement and energy. Going around the various shows I bumped into two of the panel guests from Tuesday evening as well as other people who had come along and people who had heard about it but could not make it – in total more people to stop and chat with than I would do in similar circumstances in London. I had a new sense of starting to belong in the art-scene here – and I like it!