I've written this in the order I saw the works, maybe I should've edited it or just written about one or two pieces but my OCD took over....
It may be remiss of me but this is the only part of the Manchester International Festival I've seen, better than nothing right? Anyway I walk out of the wet day and up and into the top floor of the Manchester Art Gallery where I am given a map which a briefly glance at before folding it and tucking it under my dripping and broken umbrella and began thinking about how I am going to guide myself through the crowd. I haven't seen this many people here since that Da Vinci thing a couple of years ago.
At some point I had made a decision not to read too much about the works, I am not really referring to the map I have. So not having a preference or a need to see a particular piece I begin to drift towards one of the rooms which doesn't have a queue of people stuck to it. There are a few people in this room but the main focus is the figure facing into the corner, an older man I guess by his grey hair dressed plainly and holding a walking stick. That's all I can gather, facing away from me, from the audience keeping his secrets to himself and therefore making me ask why I am looking at this man. Who has the power in this relationship the one who keeps the secrets or one who piles on the associations on the quiet figure? It's only after leaving the room that I discover its Santiago Sierra's Veterans of the wars of Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and Iraq facing the corner.
Still without no clear idea of where I should direct myself I end up in John Baldessari's room Unrealised Proposal for Cadavre Piece which is one piece I have some knowledge of. The room is covered in e-mails regarding Baldessari's attempts to recreate Mantegna's Lamentation of Christ using a real corpse. People read the neatly pinned e-mails (I skim and read the post-it chapter headings) I wonder why? What are they getting from it, that the practicalities of making art is far removed from the perceived anything goes perception? That the piece is somehow completed within engagement with the conceptual and ethical issues surrounding the piece or are they waiting until some of the queues go down?
Who knows, in the words of Jay-Z 'On to the next one'
Still sticking to my meandering method, I catch the eye of a steward who invites me into a room. Where I'm greeted by a baroque silhouette. From which emits a voice, a voice which belongs to man in a grand bed. I am trying to position myself so I can listen to his monologue which is harder then it sound as the surrounding walls of covered with the rest of the audience. So I sit by the side of the bed so it appears that the pillow is giving the monologue. Where ever the monologue is coming from it details the difficulties of representation and the confusion between personal, public and historic narratives. It should feel egotistical but it doesn't perhaps I identify with the need to create my own monologue or maybe I spent too many hours in my own bed thinking about myself (ahem) so maybe its concerns are more universal then it first seems. Soon the book is closed and the audience leaves.