The other artists in the exhibition had videos. One gave me a moment of surprised delight. An ink line- animated, we do not see the pen- joins dots in a grid. The line lengthens, then suddenly appears to bulge and change shape, joining more and more dots. There you go. I don’t know if it’s art (well, I think it is) but I know I liked it.
The projector was odd, and I spent some time examining it. It points sideways, not at the screen but at a small mirror at an angle, which reflects the light upward to another mirror, which reflects it towards the screen. The narrow film is held taut above the black projector. I could see unfocused colour on the mirror, a blurred misrepresentation of the image on the screen- a cup, from above. It was made or altered for this installation, in a black room. I was intrigued, trying to puzzle it out, though I came to no conclusion.
Duncan Campbell’s other film had a series of African art works starkly lit against a black background, while a white female voice read an essay. I could disagree with the voice- that the Nigerian constitution echoes Kant and Voltaire is not a sign that Colonialism continues, because Kant and Voltaire are world heritage, too great to be merely European. I could argue that is a patronising judgment for Campbell or the woman to make, more acceptable from a Nigerian. I would say it is not Art: it is writing, or a documentary, a film, “The Arts” but not for an art gallery. I would say that. So there. There were far more people watching this than the other videos.
The other videos were more what I am used to, as the video installation in an art gallery. The film lingers on a book of photos, parts of which have been scratched out. Where the photo showed a man lying on the floor, I could not tell whether the boot on his face was part of the original photo, or filmed on it, but a boot on a face is horrible. A wild flower caressed a woman’s face- we could not see who held it- and her open mouth, then her labia and anus. Not suitable for teenagers. I felt detached, and was self-conscious about myself with this art work: attempting to be open to it, wondering if the feelings it evoked were the point- mainly in my case disgust and puzzlement. It gives me a safe space to feel these things, like a horror film.
I loved the voice on the second artist’s film. It was beautiful, sounding to me urgent, wanting to convey to me its feeling of excitement, though the repeated words did not make clear sense. H thought it sounded “needy” and I wondered how that related to my own experience.
Then we went to the Late Turner exhibition, which was crowded out. H saw Rain Steam and Speed– through a huge crowd, it took patience. The mythological paintings seemed to us lit from different places: there is the moon in a night sky, reflected on the water; there is a city up a steep hill, seeming lit by bright sunlight from another direction. Agrippina brings home the body of Germanicus, and I saw the figures as relaxing, as with a picnic. It is possible not to get 19th century art too. I loved the members’ coffee bar. It really does not need all those arches and supports, the pillars and capitols. Even the corridor to the loos, sky-lit and dark panelled, was a sensual experience.