Summer exhibitions on at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art
Emoji summary: 🖼🗣✋🏻
Most reviews on The White Pube are practically short stories that recount what an exhibition has done to our bodies n souls. That’s a particularly solo show power, to b able to instigate an aesthetic experience and make the space somewhere the visitor wants to stay/ and hold. It is also what makes the rounds on the internet, so can we please now hav a moment of silence for all the artworks that don't get publicity on social media because they r not aesthetiqqq. cause what about the shows that require a different type of energy, for u to be in Twitter mode rather than Instagram? All these ways of engaging with art are tangled in my eyes. ye ye exhibitions can have atmospheric value n that’s moving, but I forget sometimes that galleries can be places to learn, that they can b active, hard work, hav u reading things, looking into vitrines, and expanding yourself around the histories and ideas presented. I was feeling that harder/higher purpose when I visited the exhibitions on at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art/my head swaying between image versus thought. sometimes getting into it can feel like the end of school summer holidays when you pick up a pen and try to remember your own handwriting. i gotta stop scrolling
I was thinking around this because the exhibitions on at Mima rn are nottttt instagrammable, and i’m really glad? I’ll go on to talk about why but let me first give u the run down of what’s on.
1 ~ ~ ~ The institution is hosting The Place Is Here which is an exhibition of black artists and collectives currently on across mima and South London Gallery. the works r located, they are bringing their shoulders in and making sure they are not touching; they do not suffer fools; it’s the type of room you turn your phone on silent for. ~ I liked the Sunil Gupta collages of queer couples in London alongside poetry (‘Round moon; disk light thinner than city winter/lamps through which we drive’ ah ah ah), and Lubaina Himid’s figure of Haitian revolutionary Toussaint Louverture. He stands next to the door 2 be a gallery sentry, a cardboard ghost, setting the exhibition’s posture.
2 ~ ~ ~ alongside that, mima curated ‘Wilderness Way’ (I will always hate alliteration). it is an exhibition that collages art and archival material centring on Margaret Thatcher’s visit to Middlesbrough in 1987. tight n relevant to local people, but reverberating further to show how diasporic identities lived through UK politics in the 80s: including Keith Piper’s submission for Bloomberg New Contemporaries, banners of the four horsemen of the apocalypse xcept here a tory, a policeman, an army person n Reagan. good art. I also really really liked Larry Achiampong and David Blandy’s video of spoken word over grand theft auto landscapes. it wasn’t too cool, u kno? it worked.
3 ~ ~ ~ Mima recently acquired work by Kader Attia at Frieze with a grant from the Contemporary Art Society, which is a wild sentence to write isn't it. in the space, there are carousel projectors clicking around showing photographs of African objects used/worn/held in their original context alongside pictures of them once they were taken and made redundant to be in European museum collections. receipts of colonialism going on and on like a twitter thread, rolling its eyes, exhausted and sad.
; the shows are coherent that I cannot write about one without mentioning the other round the corner. the curatorial team have offered a full lookbook coordinating their bag with their shoes and their eyeshadow, it’s nice.
* but ok, 2 get to my point, I noticed that I was enjoying and standing the strictness of the three exhibitions because they weren’t just offering me some passive image experience. I am normally all 444 that but I am really suspicious of Instagramness at the moment and checking myself about it; wondering if I prefer pretty exhibitions because they are good content, or if I do genuinely prefer them? it’s fucked,, social media is this place where the ppl who can make things look a certain way are celebrated and granted Influencer titles, meaning they have the opportunity+power to endorse. for me, the exhibition visit is so tied to trying to take a good photo of it for instagram that I now walk around as a Content Creator waiting for an exhibition to advertise itself to me. that is gross, such a stressful symptom that we gotta bite at other people’s work to forward ourselves, idk why that is a constant. but realising it switched something in me and it meant I thought the exhibitions on at Mima were specifically radical because by not being instagrammable they were protected from, and above, that shitty culture in which trend and aesthetic is capital. i’m not being OTT, that Influencer structure is really confusing how I appreciate things, bc if it won’t get likes it’s not worth our time?, but I gained so much from visiting The Place Is Here/Wilderness Way/Kader Attia, so na
You know when you learn a new word and then read it everywhere in the weeks after as if life is presenting it to you now that it knows u are ready? There were small moments in each of these shows that have stayed in my mouth to shape my conversations. thatttttt is influential, truly. and if instagram is so bound to the exhibition engagement then those conversations are what i want from the Influencers in the art world; in galleries it’s what I want of artists and curators; n I hope the people who follow what we do on The White Pube actually read the texts we labour over and don’t just think we’re an instagram acc for cute dogs and paintings. resist that
these exhibition are on at mima until October 8th