Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly – Gilbert Keith Chesterton
It’s not easy to do your own exhibition. For starters, you need to be perfectionistic, and the more you are, the more you’re likely to give everyone around you headaches. And if you have a good team around you (of perfectionists) they ought to drive you to the brink of insanity en route to putting on a good show. It’s normal, but it’s not nice. Well, some of it is fun.
The exhibition I held on Friday the 4th was my first; it was themed around color and light, and magic. But it was also about lightness, and manipulation. Every day we are manipulated and attempting to manipulate the world. Left brain human beings attempt to find rules to follow, and if there aren’t any, they make them. Right brain people operate more holistically. And they are the ones who try to change the world to suit them. I guess that’s me.
We also see the world in the light we choose to see it. Sometimes it’s rich and colorful, other times dark and dim and dull, sometimes very black and white, other times fuzzy. People do see the same reality very very differently. This speaks to me about how innovative life is, even just below the surface. Because of course we assume everything and everyone out there operates just as we do. In fact, life is a system of chaos, all of it, and all of us, moving more in one direction than another, but within a storm of conflicting and clashing life energy.
Most people in the world function with the left brain. It’s sequential, logical (apparently) and incapable of seeing the larger picture. The right brain is more creative. Language, though, is seated in the left brain, which is what makes me a peculiar case. I am good at conveying language in writing, meanwhile I am not someone who speaks very well. If I am demonstrating directions I might say: “You go straight, and then over there (pointing), turn left, and then you… (nodding my nose)…keep going… (nodding)…that way.”
Classrooms are usually based on the easier, more logical system. Thus right brain based people may find it hard to fit in. I did. And it’s not easy fitting in to a left brain centric society.
So it was important for me to connect, to have an exhibition because I think it is also important to operate beyond the theoretical. To test your ideas against the hammer of reality is always brutal, but here the learning curve is the steepest.
The week leading up to the exhibition was incredibly stressful. Stress is often a factor of all those functions not under one’s control. One can influence these to some extent, but those that you can’t, you have to let go of. That’s hard.
It was extremely difficult to set up the whole exhibition with essentially one night (the night before) to do it in. This wasn’t as a result of a lack of urgency, or preparation, or readiness on my part. I’d wanted to start getting into the building from as early as the previous week. I thought Tuesday, a holiday, would then be made available for the bulk of work. The studio apparatus (lights, books, props etc) were only removed a few hours (two or three I think) before the exhibition itself. Thus I was only able to take ownership of the setting – completely – in the two or three hours prior to the Exhibition. I think 99% of people in the world would be driven crazy by such a situation.
So I’m really chuffed that even under these abnormal circumstances, I did my job, the caterer (Fransa) did a great job (fetching an extra table at the last minute too), and my father provided, amongst other props, a huge display board (which he also painted), which made all the difference. All these efforts came together, so that with half an hour to spare, as the light was leaving the sky, and Mystic’s smoke begin to soften the edges of a long day, and I started lighting candles, Fransa and I realized that we’d created a beautiful space. It was when Fransa and I were packing out the wine glasses on an elegant black tablecloth, that I finally realized the quality of the whole package. It was a good feeling.
After that, once again, I had no control over who was coming and how they would react. Initially I saw a number of cars hovering in front of 80 Kellner Road. (In fact I had put this instruction on the invites: ‘80 Kellner Road, behind the Potting Shed’. I was told to remove the latter part of the instruction, and stupidly, did. So I spent a certain amount of time waving to people in the road, and ushering people in from the front gate, unable to go in with them because a constant stream began to arrive, hovering in the road, not sure where to go. Unfortunately at this point, I was the only person who could really explain to people where to go. But I think in my absence they had time to browse and explore, and when I found the crowd they seemed happy and interested.
Quite suddenly, the venue was packed, and roaring. Food was being guzzled, Sherries were being thrown back, and surprise surprise, the slide show in the foyer had captured a sizable audience.
Celebrities present included Eloise Pretorius (radio presenter on OFM) and Jean Marie Neethling and her sister Elsje (a reporter for Die Volksblad). An actress friend of mine, Anelma, whom I’d met just once before, arrived on her own fairly early and left when I closed the place.
I got a few orders from some of the older, and no doubt, more moneyed visitors, with ‘Foam’, set in Jeffrey’s Bay, being a surprise favorite. At 8pm I gave a walk through, using a classic red dot lazer pointer. One person said: ‘This feels like school.’ Someone else said afterwards, ‘You spoke too long’. Petro said: ‘Your talk was interesting and added a really nice dimension to the photos.’
Anelma added another dimension to a photo titled ‘Pixie hiding between leaves’. She pointed out the stick body of a strange creature, and shocked me by pointing out the features of a witch, her pale gray face hidden in the left corner. The image is entirely accidental; I merely meant to capture powerful sunlight flooding through dense green leaves, and the result is quite magical. More magical in fact even than I’d realized!
I particularly enjoyed having a lot of people around me that I consider friends, and having them interested in me and my efforts. It’s a unique experience, and it’s thoroughly enjoyable when you know you worked hard, did a good job, and the compliments are not only real but deserved. That makes it worth it.
After two hours, the storm was over, and people began to trickle away. By 10pm there were just a handful of people around, so I finally had time to eat something, and that’s when I started to have some wine and enjoy myself. Barney invited a couple who organize exhibitions at Oliewenhuis, and one of them got thoroughly sozzled. Anelma and I carried a table full of bloodied wine glasses inside at around midnight. I turned off the lights, turned on the alarm, and joined the noisy night, leaving the lettuce to absorb the pictures on the dark white walls.