“Everything is created twice, first in the mind, then in reality” Robin P Sharma
Yesterday I attended an art exhibition at the Grundy Art Gallery in Blackpool. I’d visited one or two exhibits a few years ago. I realise I am rather selective when it comes to fine art. If I see an exhibit featuring a huge inflatable balloon that fills the room I disregard it as it bears no connection to my studies. Yet, that said, if you perceive the world in such a way, everything links together, every subject bound, some distant, some more obvious. I was chatting to the museum curator and who knew that a comparison of an old painting could also be quite a strong comparison for a steam engine retired from the public and festering in the dark.
Therefore from now on, I will view everything in regards to my study. After all visiting only photographic exhibitions is surely one-dimensional thinking.
There were two exhibitions. Paper, Canvas, Neon displayed a variety of work from the Grundy Art galleries permanent collection. It was diverse encompassing a broad spectrum of materials, mediums, geography and dates. From an original of Pablo Picasso’s ‘Dove’ “used to illustrate the 1949 Paris Peace Congress, that became an international symbol of peaceful and political action, to the panoramic vibrant painting of a sun lounge on Blackpool seafront by Keith McGinn.
I love the atmospheric dappled effect.
I was struck by the awe and majesty of the fjords
You know that feeling when you can almost step into a painting.
Next was the focus of my visit. Before seeing the exhibit I’d done some research on Tahi Moore’s installation, ‘Kim Wilde’s Heart of Darkness’ The exhibition was described as showing ‘images of mountains…seductive beauty…lights and resonance.” It sounded intriguing and I was excited to visit.
The name was inspired by Kim Wilde’s song ‘Cambodia’ I listened to the haunting song, of a husband sent to Cambodia (presumably for war) and how he returned but he never truly left Cambodia. LIke all the greatest art, the song ending is open for interpretation. What happened to the wife who searched for him in Cambodia? If she saw him again why did he never return from Cambodia? “And if she held him close He used to search her face as though she knew the truth lost inside Cambodia.” I interpreted it as her husband did leave the country yet only in the physical sense, emotionally, destroyed by the horrors he saw he would forever be lost inside Cambodia.
As it turned out the only thing the exhibition shared with the song was the title and even then it was obscure how that was related. I walked into a room that was blasted with light. Three wall-sized screens showed a few-second loop of unbearably shaky footage of the mountains, soft out of focus lights blinking and another landscape flickering on and off. This was disorientating enough without the several TV screens on the final wall blinking on and off with literary quotes from Macbeth, Othello and King Lear.
All of my initial thoughts and expectations of the exhibit drained away. I stared at the screens revolving myself in a slow circle trying to define some meaning from the exhibit. Try as I might I couldn’t and I realised it was because the flashing lights, the onslaught of images and disorientating visuals were apprehending my own mind and I couldn’t think. I recorded an audio note and I literally couldn’t string a sentence together. Was this the desired effect? I wasn’t sure. I recalled what the museum curator said earlier, “When you go to the exhibit, take your own interpretation but you should know that a conversation with the photographer was quite intense.” He told me how Tahi Moore would be talking about one thing and then leap back to something two weeks ago in the same sentence, running several different conversations with different people all in the moment.
All the screens and projectors were connected by wires that linked into the centre of the room. As far as I know the wires were not a part of the exhibition, yet why show them so obviously; however when I saw them finally the exhibit started making sense coupled with what the curator said. Were these images to show the personality of the photographer, had he portrayed his true self to the viewer. I was inside his mind, the wires on the ground connected to each other like the dendrites and synapses relaying information to the brain. That is the meaning I took from it but without the curator’s words, I fear I wouldn’t have taken anything from it. I’d have been sat staring at a computer screen trying to turn thoughts into words yet the thoughts being as blank as the piece of paper pinned to the exhibition wall.
I guess even though we take our own interpretations from art we are always swayed by others perception and sometimes adopt others views as our own, creating a rather triumphant feeling that we understood the art. Yet can we truly ever understand art? As Susan Sontag said the way we view images is just like we are still stuck in Plato’s Cave, we create our own stories from the shadows on the wall but we do not know the story of shadows the photographer is telling. I will discuss this in one of the next blog posts.
I chatted to the curator after visiting the exhibits and he told me some fascinating trivia about pieces in the gallery and when I was leaving I bought one of the art magazines they had. To my surprise, he dashed off and gave me several back issues of the magazines for free! I was so touched by his kindness.
So while the exhibit was different to my expectations, so too is everything in life, no disrespect to the artist but I actually felt more drawn to the song and the hidden meanings and how in respect to the next part of the course especially, a space becomes a place and sometimes while you physically may leave that space, emotionally there is always an imprint of you left behind, either in the place or the place in your mind. Perhaps I could create images of the echo of memories for Assignment Three.