Monday, July 11, 2005

... but I know what I like

For the last week or so I have been gallery-sitting my exhibition biologika, a collection of images made from mathematical algorithms, at a little gallery in Sydney's Surry Hills. This is the first time I've done anything like this and it makes for extremely interesting interaction with the general public. I've decided that people who come into art galleries (or at least into my exhibition - I have to make it clear that my experience of gallery watching is based strictly on a sample of one) can be defined by a few major classes:

1. The Nice Normal People: These make up the greatest proportion of visitors and they usually enter shyly, say hello, look at the pieces, ask a few reasonable questions, say thanks and leave. A subset of the Nice Normal People I like to call the Very Nice Normal People, and these are the ones who do all the above including actually buying something. For the purposes of this post, this group is also the least interesting though, so moving on we come to...

2. The Serial Gallery Visitors: I can now spot these types instantly at the door. They walk into the gallery very purposefully, often with a bag full of shopping or laundry. This indicates that they are not so much visiting to view the work, as idling away a few minutes while on their way to or from doing something MUCH more important (possibly stopping to visit every other gallery in their path, one speculates). It appears that what's hanging on the walls is incidental to their visit - they mostly want to come in and impart some kind of wisdom, usually in the form of letting me know how much they know about this kind of thing. Often they will let drop that yes, they could do this too, if they really cared to spend their valuable time in such a way. They will take whatever informational material has been provided with no intention at all of ever looking at it again. Then there are...

3. The Tyre Kickers: These people have many of the characteristics of the SGV with their own unique affectation of attempting to give the illusion that they might buy something. They look seriously at the price list and ask questions about the framing and the care of the works. They might move purposefully between two particular pieces, clucking and shaking their heads as if the decision about which one to take is the toughest thing they've had to do all year. But they just can't decide so they leave, promising to come back tomorrow with a cheque... They never return. They are not quite as bad as...

4. The Undiscovered Artists: These make a cursory circuit of the work, but only just enough to give them an excuse for being here because what they really want to do is tell me all about their own artistic efforts in excruciating detail. Unfortunately they are usually incredibly boring. In some cases, they "just happen to have some photographs" of their work with them, "would you like to have a look?" (Really. This has happened twice, I kid you not). This of course confirms my worst fears and I am stuck nodding and smiling, listening to how they're "going to get an exhibition up soon, you should come along!" and wishing that a War of the Worlds style alien invasion would start up in the street outside. I aso get...

5. The Loons: These can take all kinds of forms, from the obvious Tourette's Sufferers to the ostensibly normal-appearing punters who reveal their thin grasp on reality only after they have snagged me in conversation. Sample exchange:
Loon: Wow, these are incredible. Did you do these?
Me: Yes, I did, I'm glad you like them.
Loon: So, how are these done then?
Me: There are some information sheets just there by the door, if you'd like to read about them.
Loon (reads information sheet which explains how the works are made): So, how are these done then?
Me (patiently): They're made with mathematical systems.
Loon: Right. So how are they done then?
Me (realising too late that I have engaged with loon): Do you know anything about mathematics?
Loon: Nah, man. I hate maths.
Me: Ah, OK, well, it's a bit hard to explain then. It's not important, as long as you enjoy them...
Loon: OK. So how are they done?

I prefer the Tourette's Sufferers because at least you know where you stand from the get go.

biologika Online Gallery [Link]
Some Photos from the Launch [Link]
Fine Art Quality Limited Edition Prints in my shop! Save a starving artist today! [Link]

A few memorable lines from the last 2 weeks:

Man with Untidy Hair (I have just explained in fairly broad terms how one of the works is made): Oh it's no good. I have to go and have a coffee and an anti-depressant.

Nonchalant Young Man with Acne: Yeah, I do stuff like this all the time in Photoshop.

Man with Baseball Cap: I really love that domed effect on all of these. (It's impossible to know what he means by this - there is no discernable 'domed' effect).

Dishevelled Man: I've seen everything in this gallery since it opened and this is the only thing that deserves to be called art.

Drunk and Threatening Man: I've come in to rob you. Have you got any money? (Pauses) Ha! I'm just kidding, I wasn't really going to rob you.

Girl with Badly Bleached Short Hair (to companion, knowledgeably): Oh yeah, this is all those fractuals an' that.


Anonymous Universal Head said...

A fascinating insight into gallery-sitting life. I especially recognised the "Yeah, I do stuff like this all the time in Photoshop" comment - as a graphic designer, I come across this creature often; unfortunately he/she/it is often my client.

July 11, 2005 11:07 PM  
Anonymous Cissy Strutt said...

Prominent British Neurosurgeon, to Margaret Atwood at a dinner: Oh, so you're a writer. Yes, I've often thought I'll write a book when I have some free time.
Margaret Atwood to PBN: When I get the time, I'm going to do some brain surgery.

July 12, 2005 10:34 AM  
Anonymous Universal Head said...

Brilliant! I'm definitely using that one next time.

July 12, 2005 12:52 PM  
Blogger roya parsay said...

quite interesting. So, how are these done then?!!!!;-)

July 12, 2005 1:07 PM  
Blogger anaglyph said...

Oh my lord - even on my blog! Have mercy!


July 12, 2005 1:30 PM  
Blogger Misha said...

I missed it :(

But I am really impressed with the pictures, they are amazing.

Your descriptions of the people who enter art galleries cracked me up because you are spot on. You should try being in a group containing one of each of the kinds of people you mentioned - hilarious stuff.

July 15, 2005 7:03 PM  
Blogger SuzanH said...

New here, and I'm really enjoying finding my way around. Love the work--particularly the domed stuff!

I managed a not-for-profit cooperative gallery years ago, and would get a nice variety of those you described on a daily basis. Ah, good times.

July 20, 2005 7:09 AM  

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