Temi Del Mese

Photo from the blog of Patrick S Ford

This month certain themes are echoing around my mind. They come from the walls of public spaces, the mouths of friends, off the page.

In the art-world, conversation is the new beat. Radio talk show hosts from BBC local stations appear at the Serpentine to hold court. Previously in 2007, the Serpentine hosted two major overnight conversation marathons in which a bevvy of artists and thinkers, as well as Resonance104.4FM, took part. We considered the marathons monumental at the time. And while some interactive art works may increasingly seem frivolous, others have changed the way we consider art. By actively engaging the onlooker the exchange between living artwork and the public becomes a facilitator for social change, whether the onlooker likes it or not, working in a way no other art movement ever has.

Tania Bruguera’s Immigrant Movement International

For example in the Tate gallery, The Tanks, visitors are cross-examined by a psychic in a piece by Jon Fawcett named EIR.  And since July and through the Olympic period, the seminal new piece by British-German artist (of partly Indian origin) Tinho Seghal has been thronging constantly up and down Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.

In Seghal’s work there is none of this ‘acting’. Participants occasionally break away from the formations to talk privately to a member of the public, the mechanics of the piece are closed to onlookers who can only guess how it works. It is clear though that one aspect of the piece is that participants talk from their own experiences to onlookers; all true, unscripted stories. The artist is not aware of the fine details of what it is his living artwork says to each individual but instead has enough confidence in the impact of his vision and his presence during rehearsals, to know that it/they will do him proud. The piece called These Associations has been hailed as part of a seismic movement in modern art, this interactive piece has shifted ideas of what art can be. No more the static, controlled work presented finished to a silent onlooker. Seghal’s piece shows around the time of Tania Bruguera’s Immigrant Movement International, one of the live pieces in The Tanks who’s strap-line and raison d’ĂȘtre is ‘Art in Action’.

As a result of all this digest I’m taken back to when the period in which I produced a six part series for Resonance104.4FM called Arting Around with Chelsea College lecturer Jo Melvin. For Arting Around we allowed our ideas to form during discussion rather than preparing them for broadcast, chewing them over and often leaving them open for further gestation at the close of the show.

These threads, together with the omnipresent provocative Paralympics (sic Last Leg on Channel 4) and the arts debates I’ve been attending recently have formed into several themes that occur persistently, and not for the first time necessarily, to my mind.  They have become cornerstones of a discourse that set my mind on it’s own journey, as I move around this urban setting, meeting with my peers and ingesting the media that constantly surrounds our senses. And here they are:

   The nature of wanting is transitory. Hence as time is our only real currency, do we consider the reality of having spent it, how we’ll feel about what we’ve done with it? We live in a culture that denies the truth of time as our only true currency, and repeatedly fails to prepare or explore the fact.

  Why are we not taught what it looks and feels like be happy at school, as a nation of children?

   The idea of perfect romance only exists in transience. Is life-long love a contract between yourself and your own heart, where you decide to love someone despite what life throws at you? (We bashed out that it was the mind, but the mind changes constantly with mood, hence it must be something deeper).

   Has spontaneity all but disappeared from our adult lives? Why?

  And if so why don’t we live in the present? Is consumerism and the fears it promotes the driving force behind our constant planning and projection?

  Admiration is something we might have for our friends despite their flaws, do they like-wise admire us and accept flaws in us that we perhaps cannot see?

   If you could only own 100 objects, where toothpaste and toothbrush count as two, what would you own and how would it impact your attitude to life?

   Do the traveling generation (born 70-80s) and their children nurture home as being in the heart, whilst their grandparents instead counted home as a physical place? And has that led to hearts that are stronger, more open globally yet that are more insecure locally?