Autumn/winter exhibitions at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art
emoji summary: 🏡🤒🛌
you bring baggage into the exhibition space. you bring baggage into any space you enter. LET US PRAY: We are all the brunette off the constipation advert. U know, the woman who puts more and more food into her handbag because she is constipated and she hasn’t been able to have a shit yet.
Lads my bag is heavy. I have an anxiety problem. The physical effects of this precarious transitional stage i’m in post-uni trying to make The White Pube lyf into My Actual Life has curdled my body n brain. picture Boomerang Generation and Generation Rent on a venn diagram, i’m between them in the coloured-in section fukked and stuck tryna navigate the art world, Scared about the future in a way I’ve never been before. I have a nervous stomach and a tight throat. I’ve stopped taking risks, and I’ve put my bike in the back room. And it’s a bit endless bc I feel like I can’t get my head straight until my circumstances have stabilised - but I don’t know how to do that and still write within a guarded state of politics / and commitment to being a good person. (I thought moving home would be temporary and also fine? I didn’t know it would be this symbolic cockblock on my personal and professional development, and i definitely didnt think it would put me on antidepressants).
the hot fingers of this trap are grabbing me by the ankles and i’m not even the most at-risk. I am a graduate, my parents can allow me to sleep n eat in their nice house. but the other day someone asked me jokingly if I was waiting for my mum and dad to die so I could become a homeowner. I’m now waiting for the headline when a desperate millennial jumps the gun, how #dark is that.
Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art’s new programme includes 4 exhibitions and public events abt the art and politics of housing, and I went with all ^these^ feelings in my mouth. 1. There is a good round education to ground the visitor's experience in The Housing Question. more of a reading room than an exhibition, there r big posters of socialist activism n other histories across the walls and a nice optimistic essay by Stuart Hodkinson. the optimism in the room is underpinned by the gallery’s own politic 2 be an open useful museum, relevant and welcoming to its locality (something u can just feel in the air and conversation at mima, it’s very nice). 2. Assemble have one of the rooms for their Granby Workshop: Products and Processes where raw materials are shown alongside tools, their finished products & instructions on how to get from A to B. There are printed curtains hanging on the wall, a small section is tiled. mini museum display. Mima (along with the V&A) have actually made an acquisition of all of these bits n bobs owning the whole process not just its outcomes ; And 3. there is the staple exhibition for Middlesbrough itself with a city plan low on the floor by Will Alsop that ahhh felt like the treasure maps u draw as a kid when you have the energy to imagine whole worlds. Some of his plan actually became real for Middlesbrough but the whole dream was never built. (the rest of this space evaporated for me ~ the physical curation left me aimless in the space, so i drifted onto the biggy ~)
4. A Room of Our Own absolutely packs the longest gallery space with artworks/designed pieces behind loose barriers set up in small interior design situations. everything is covered: carpets by Jasleen Kaur; wallpapers by The Grantchester Pottery/Katie Hawkins/Susie Green for CommonRoom; table and stools by Katie Schwab; bed by Jonathan Baldock. the Artist Tea Towel Company has some contributions in a row on the back wall, etc. etc. there’s a lot more in there.
* ah, i saw this quote by Chris Lefteri on Instagram: ‘Ikea-ism, a form of consumerism that is based on temporary living, and reflects the kind of impermanence you get when you buy a shelving unit from Ikea – simple to assemble and just as simple to take apart,’ and i screenshotted bc it feels like it’s the pattern of buying i should be stuck following but naaaa i can feel my whole soul tightening up against generalised fast fashion lifestyle. I start to think: I want a good coat and just a pair of docs that are going to last!!;; a solid table, a big bed, a desk that will stay forever. wanna populate my life with the type of things u buy at auctions instead of amazon!! But I stop because I can’t at this point imagine so much as furnishing. What I said above about having the energy as a kid to draw whole treasure maps - accessorising ur living room is a privilege at this point. imagine being able to think about what tea towels you wanted, i’m just figuring out where rent is comin from, and also where it’s going.
i felt more at home in the reading room exhibition than in this one, which didnt feel like a room of my own. it was busy and the curation felt alienating. Visually: the aesthetic of the show was mostly like the jewellery white middle class women buy from gallery gift shops (see Prue off the Great British Bake Off) (not that the work was made by lots of middle class people but the *aesthetic* smelt like that), and Literally: the curation (blaming the barriers) made the artworks v v distanced - becoming adverts or museum objects rather than tangible things that give off that nice art energy // or the comfortable applicable thing-ness of items round someone’s house. I say this largely bc i had seen Jonathan Baldock’s bed when it was in an exhibition of its own at SPACE in London earlier this year, where you could take your shoes off and climb into the bed with felt cut-outs of matchsticks, lips, and eyes on the its four-poster sides, and hear the artist’s mother speaking. i had an itchy rest inside that bed-sculpture,, so it made me sad to see it here behind zoo bars in A Room of Our Own, and knowing that contaminated the rest of the pieces. because I wanted to sit on the candy stripe chairs by Katie Schwab and i wanted to put my own strong flowers inside Nadia Hebson’s waterless vases,, but i couldnt. the living value of these was diminished, curation undermining the politics of its own show. The optimism in the other spaces was stifled here, and contained to the pieces themselves.
and i so needed the exhibition engagement in this room to be genuine to get towards the relief and care I don’t have in my own living situation. my bedroom is my living room, storage room, dining room and the place i lay dead for 10 hours a night (used to be 8, blame antidepressants). I watch others online decorate and pot plants n frame artwork, v pinterest, but I am holding onto the fact that for me -this is temporary- and soon enough I’ll move out. i’ll graduate from living at home and u can tick me off the Boomerang Generation wikipedia page. maybe then i will be able to enjoy these kinds of display exhibitions and start to Relate, but for now I’m gonna sit in the reading room and moan with everyone else until we know how we can be happy.
visit until 18 feb 2018: