Gallery #1 vs #2. #2 wins.

by Alex from Maybe ( ) Together

Today I visited two galleries.
#1 was the Saatchi Gallery. And I have never been through a three level gallery as quickly as I did today. It was white wall elitist art at its best. Depressing unengaging photography with little regard for the amazing projects going on in the world (see gallery #2). Ironically, the one photograph that caught my attention was one I’d already seen on the internet.

#2 was The Hayward Gallery. Jeremy Deller: my new creative crush.

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Now here is an artist that engages with what’s going on in the world. And has done so for 20 years. Three cheers to Hayward for curating his work now.

There were many things I enjoyed about this exhibition: it’s layout. it’s accessibility. it’s interactivity. it’s generosity.

One particular part I spent much time in was the Manchester International Festival Procession. Best described here:

One of the floats of the festival was “Valerie’s Diner”. Which was in the exhibition, where if you sat down you were offered a tea while watching a video of the procession with it’s beauty queens, unrepentant smokers, funeral directors, bagpipe players and all the wonderfully bizarre social groups that exist in Manchester.

He also had a voiced over slide show of all the big and small things he has done. One was his folk archive, where he travelled with Alan Kane around the UK documenting various traditions/games/things. Like, the ugliest face pulling contest or a greasy pole climbing competition. (said greasy pole was removed due to liability issues as the pole wasn’t permanent. The response from Deller was that he built a “public sculpture” as a permanent structure in the city, which turned into a greasy pole once a year. nice.)

It was so heart-warming to see this work being presented in a contemporary gallery. I can’t help but feel that this isn’t celebrated in Australia. Perhaps I’m being unnecessarily pessimistic, but the turn-around for the galleries, and the lack of bravery I witness in curation means work like this would not be shown in Australia NOW.
Celebration of the political artist.
The social artist.
The collaborative artist.
Joy to the people.

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