It was good to be reminded that installing work takes considerably longer than imagined! That said Play is now up and open at KinoKino (Sandnes, Norway). The whole show looks great and I am truly pleased to have been selected to participate in such a good and significant exhibition.
The show marks two particular firsts that I was not aware of before talking with Kjetil, the gallery manager, and Roberto, the guest curator, over the weekend. Firstly I was not aware that Immerse is the first show to be mounted since Kjetil took over running the space – a space that has ‘history’ shall we say. Nor was I aware that the show is Roberto’s first curatorial project since leaving the commercial gallery where he worked for a considerable number of years. Both Kjetil and Roberto have a lot resting on how this show is received – it is therefore especially meaningful to be included, it is an amazing demonstration of their trust and respect for me as an artist, and for that alone I am hugely grateful.
The piece is being shown in a new configuration, one that works well in the space and which in some ways takes the piece forward – proposing new and additional aspects and reflection (and I mean those terms both literally and figuratively). The piece now consists two equal size sections of video tape curtain that hang parallel and close to each other to create a moment of corridor between them. This corridor is sufficiently wide to walk through without touching the tape, and sufficiently long for one to become aware of being between the two components. At the opening I noticed that several people walked through this corridor space before walking through the tape curtain itself. Others chose to walk straight through the first tapes, over the corridor, and through the second tapes. Others circled the installation or closely followed the out most edges (as if it was one form) running their fingers through the lengths of tape. The volume and possibilities that this particular configuration afford the piece is very satisfying. I am wondering if there might be more to explore here ….
Despite the tight time schedule (not only mine, but also the whole rebuild, get-in, and switch on for the show), I really enjoyed the days of setting up. Being in the space with Roberto, Kjetil, and Laurie (a UK artist who is also showing an installation), reminded me how much I enjoy good group dynamics – discussion ranged from the pragmatic to the philosophical, we sought and offered advice to and from each other, we shared stories and opinions.
Somehow there was also time to spend with each other individually, which of course leads to a different quality of interaction. I have known Roberto and Kjetil each for about eight years though I have never met them together before, Laurie was unknown to me. And amid the pressure to ‘get it all done’ a couple of surprisingly restful breakfasts and the journey to the Sunday evening Zumba class gave me time to catch up with Liz – an artist and Kjetil’s partner. Ella (Liz and Kjetil’s eight year old daughter) and I had a couple of hours of drawing to ourselves – the result of my internal clock being set to wake at 6:00 at the latest – on Saturday morning. We managed through a combination of drawing and speaking, her in Norwegian and me in Swedish*, to chat about the building of a new playground at her school and to make up some stories about chickens – inspired by the ones that cluck and peck around in their garden.
(* The languages are quite distinct but understandable to each other. For a great deal Kjetil and I also spoke with each other in Norwegian and Swedish respectively. I am so pleased to be able to do this – it means that my Swedish is pretty good.)
I had forgotten quite how extensive the speeches can be at an opening. Kjetil and Roberto made good brief presentations of the gallery and show, the speech that socio/historically contextualised the building was fascinating but really qualified as more of a lecture, and the speaker who introduced the local artists association two-person show (who also had an opening in the same building) too the opportunity to read a broad collection of poems that she had composed in response to a relatively modest exhibition. Needless to say that when, after nearly an hour of listening, the doors were finally opened people were desperate to see the art and swarmed in hungry to see what was on offer, and to grab a drink!
The show is good and includes an impressive selection of artists that I feel very honoured to be among. Roberto has skilfully managed to curate something that is both high quality and accessible – not always easy bedfellows. Following a quite high-profile earlier collapse the gallery (and Kjetil as its recently appointed new leader) will be under close scrutiny from the public, the press, and the politicians – the space is publicly funded and was previously accused of being elitist and irrelevant. It is vital that Kjetil puts on shows that engage with a wide public and that expand people’s expectations of and interest in contemporary art, from what I saw and heard at the opening it looks as though things are getting off to a great start!