Monday, 17 January 2011

"This is not the Kenny G you are looking for"

To me Kenny Goldsmith is like the Barry white of poets. His voice is soothing and rather enjoyable to listen to. Due to his gentle tone and softly spoken words, his readings have very hypnotic qualities. I recently interviewed him via email (interview featured on earlier blog post). When I asked him about the effects of his voice on the success of his work, this s what he had to say; “I use it as a kind of a weapon, seductive but saying repulsive and dull things at the same time”. His radio DJ name is Kenny Go and he was once asked in an interview if he ever got confused with the famous saxophone player. It turned out that it happens quite a lot. Apparently, he gets emails from Kenny G fans telling him how much they love his music. Goldsmith doesn’t reply to any of the letters, but he does read them aloud on his show. On the link below there are some examples of the letters that he receives. He is very inspired by music and he is known to sing on his show. I have only listened to snippets of this, but if you listen to the clip below you will see why (sorry Kenny).

I was once asked by a professor at my University if I was obsessed with Kenneth Goldsmith. To that I can only reply with; no, but I’m obsessed with Kenny G. Not as either the artist or the saxophonist but a hybrid of the two which I will soon create for all to experience. Watch this blog and it will soon be revealed.
One more thing. It is not a coincidence that the title of this post is similar to a famous Star Wars quote and also a quote from Kenneth Goldsmith in reference to his confused fan mail. “I never reply to them, for fear that word would get out among Kenny G fans that I wasn’t the Kenny G they were looking for”. I am a big fan of Star Wars and a self-confessed geek. I asked Kenneth if he liked Star Wars and he said no. I was gutted at first, but I’m getting over it. 

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Move along...

It wasn’t until I left the exhibition that I began to consider the different ways in which, we as participants, were being choreographed. The fact that the sculptures were structures that could be physically engaged with was only one aspect of it. The layout of the exhibition and the order of the works, were another. There was a sort of paper structure, suspended from the ceiling that curved round through the different areas of the gallery space. It seemed to be leading the way, giving some sort of route to follow. The fact that there were invigilators watching us, in some cases telling us what to do and what not to do, definitely effected our actions and how we perceived the whole experience.  When I arrived at the exhibition, I was surprised at the number of people there. There were queues for some of the works, which was quite a shock. I should have expexted it, considering it was a Saturday. The exhibition was amazing, but I couldn’t help but wonder what it would have been like if it was emptier. It gave the exhibition a certain type of movement, so this is not really a criticism but a part of my running commentary. Busy places with lots of people and queues are just part of life and if anything is another way in which we are being choreographed. 

I asked my boyfriend what he thought about this.  

What did you think of the exhibition as a whole?
I thought it was good. Really interesting to have that interactive element. It didn’t so much raise the question of ‘is this art?’, but I think it did sort of raise questions into and explored how art can be interactive and the way different people can use it and get different things out of it. So I thought that was quite interesting.

That did you think of the layout of the exhibition?
It’s sort of what I was anticipating really. I did expect there would be lots of big things and you would be expected to move around things and touch things and get involved. One thing I wasn’t actually anticipating that there would be lots of queues, but I suppose I was a bit na├»ve. Also I was quite surprised that there were so many children there, which in retrospect I shouldn’t have been. I think that a lot of parents took their children because it was a fun event, but I think the sort of art side and the more serious side went over their heads and they were just like “Wooo!! Lots of pretty colours and you can touch things, yeah”.  

What were your thoughts on the fact that there were so many people there? Do you think it would have been a different experience if there was no one else there?
Oh yeah, definitely because of all the queues and everything you always felt a bit pressured to sort of get on with it and experience it and move onto the next thing. I think if it was empty and I was let loose to go crazy, I would have seen and done more interacting.

Stephanie Rosenthal, the curator of the exhibition, sad some very interesting things in one of the exhibition trailers on the subject of choreography. I recommend watching the link below.

Children and Cats

One thing that kept on coming to mind when I was at the exhibition, was the difference between the experiences of the various groups of people present. Artists, Dancers, Members of the public, children. I was curious about the difference between the experiences of those who considered the context and historical references of the exhibition and those who experienced it as a physical exploration of play and interaction. More specifically, I was curious to know if the exhibition would be enjoyed more by children or adults. I didn’t want any sort of answer to be given to these questions. It was merely a passing thought that seemed to linger.   I personally enjoyed the experience more as I knew more about it. The conversations both with the invigilators and dancers at the exhibition and with my boyfriend after we had left. I also enjoyed the research that I undertook in preparation for this post. I left the exhibition with a pamphlet, an exhibition guide and a feeling of terror after nearly entering a very small space crammed full of balloons (I have a phobia of the horrible things).  Also I went away with a changed view of choreography, performance and the spaces that surround me in my daily life. These curiosities about different people’s experiences of the exhibition, made me think back to a conversation I had previously with my boyfriend. The conversation was about cats, which would seem unrelated. We were sat in his parent’s kitchen and one of his cats was walking along the kitchen surface and sniffing at random objects, as cats do. He shooed the cat away and we then fell into a discussion about why the cat would enjoy the kitchen more than a human. To this, I concluded that it was due to scale. With cats being smaller than grown humans, it would be much like for them, what it would be like for us to have a giant kitchen to play in with no obligations to hygiene or social restriction. The exhibition reminded me of how I imaged that situation to be like.  I couldn’t help but conclude that children and cats would have a much greater experience of the exhibition. Yes it was interesting to see the people engage with the art works and engage yourself but I couldn’t help but think that perhaps it is cats and children that make the best artists and performers. This may seem like nonsense to some, but to me it makes perfect sense. But then again it was merely a passing thought.

Although I said I didn’t want answers, this is what my other half had to say. 

As adults, we are more likely to want to see the serious side and know about context etc. Do you think this is a hindrance to us enjoying it? Who would you say would enjoy it more, kids or adults?
You can’t really gage who enjoys something more, but I think context is important because people who are interested in art will be interested in that sort of thing and will get more pleasure from that. Like you say, the kids sort of went there and a lot of that went over their heads.

Do you think context ruins the fun experience for adults?
As art you do need to know the context because otherwise it is just a play area.

Two ladies (dancers)

Yvonne Rainer – Trio A 1966 

This is what some of the dancers thought of the event. 

What sort of thing are you doing here today?

First lady
I do a piece called Trio A which is a contemporary dance that was done in the 1960s, and it rejected a lot of things that had gone before it. It was sort of a no to seducing the audience, a no the spectacle and a no to phrasing. You just do it; you don’t acknowledge the audience. Nothing repeats and it lasts for about 6 minutes and we do it anywhere we like within the gallery space.

Second lady
I’m doing the same piece, but I could say a bit more about how it fits into the gallery if that would be helpful.
So it’s funny because we’ve performed it in dance and performance venues and this space is so different, because people aren’t sure whether they are allowed to watch us or not. I found a lot of people either watch you while kind of walking away at the same time or you have people who really stand far too close to you. There’s kind of a different art audience I think.

First lady
What is sort of interesting about dancing in a gallery space is people’s awareness the sense of you. Some people would walk past you and not even realise you’re doing anything and other people will take the time to really spend time with you and that’s been really interesting because obviously when you are on a stage you’re very, you’re distant from the audience to a certain extent and it’s nice to be in a space with people. 

Do you find it strange the fact that there’s so many people doing so many things around you that people don’t know whether you’re dancers or just participators?

Second lady
I quite like that. Some people might think that we are just participants but sometime they realise that were actually supposed to be here, it’s quite a funny balance. I think it’s nice that people can just come across people moving and sort of be surprised by it and see something that they otherwise might not necessary see, which is so nice in this space, which is public.

I feel rather ashamed to call them Lady 1 and 2. I didn't think to get their names. They were both really lovely people and were so helpful. I am very grateful to them.

This is what my boyfriend thought of the dancers. 

What did you think of the dancers?
I thought it was quite interesting having them there. It added another element to it. It was only at the end when I sort of read about their involvement in it, which was quite interesting. It added more of a visual element. It was sort of living art. It was obviously dance, but it was at an art exhibition and this raises the question of how we interpret different art. If you put things in different contexts then it changes their meaning.