The New Observatory, FACT
Trying to formulate what I thought about this exhibition. I can’t really. It felt too much going on, too many audio elements mixing together, too much to read. A head scratcher and not in a good way. More like reading a complex instruction manual while waiting for the penny to drop.
Which has me wondering “has contemporary art stopped being intuitive?”
Coming Out, The Walker
This exhibition featuring art from the art councils collection which explores sex, gender and identity. Has familiarity working for it and against it. To a degree, being work taken from a single collection you’re bound to have seen some of the work, somewhere before. It never hurts to see it again.
For me the highlight was Steve McQueen’s film Bear. Projected in what appeared to be a infinite raven, two naked male figures grapple. There movements go from aggressive to tender in a mesmerising fashion. It is something to behold. If you don’t mind the giggling at willies.
Abacus, The Bluecoat
Those sculptures look fun, but I’m too big for them. Same for the little barrister wigs.
Though this is exhibition aimed for children it doesn’t mean it can’t be approached like any other exhibition. One thing that strikes me, especially when looking over a mini courtroom, is how many playsets are steeped in historical references.
We probably overlook this, perhaps due a certain ubiquity or just to the idea that it’s all 'just for kids'.
Maybe we forget that play is a remix of the systems that control and are controlled by 'grown ups'. This naturally includes history. Whether directly or indirectly. Every child at some point creates a microcosm of historical events. How many times have I lived out the Second World War, with pillows become pillboxes or foxholes?
The idea of building a gift or a den, or even inhabiting the space behind the sofa, is about the child creating a world in which they have control. To experiment with ways of navigating the wider world. Or to have a space apart from that other world where a different set of rules apply.
Do we actually abandon these ideas when we enter adulthood? Or do we merely encase them in ideas call architecture, home ownership, money. You can only speculate what the world would be like if left these concepts behind and began to play again.