Thursday, June 19, 2008

Blog Yourself into Celebrity!

Hijacked (ACP) Opening Night June 12th 2008 Its quarter to six and I’m standing in the middle of Oxford Street on an island refuge which barely shelters me from the onslaught of peak hour motorists. There is a hot pink sheen over Sydney tonight and I begin to understand what people mean when they say Sydney sparkles. It’s the Hijacked exhibition launch tonight at The Australian Centre for Photography and I am staring directly opposite the gallery space and I have to merge into traffic or sort of make the leap of faith through the cars, bags of freezing ice cutting into my hands. I think about the transformation the ACP has undergone to get this exhibition up and running. Over the past few days we have had every volunteer in Sydney come through the place to lend a hand, every sized ladder has been erected and art works have come up and come down, and all of this process brings us to here, quarter to six on the opening night of Hijacked. Inside the gallery is already starting to fill with eager beavers, early comers pushing their way into the fresh space, desperate to feast their eyes on the latest offering. I look around at some of the artists and then to the program coordinator, I can see a crease burrow his brow and then, instantly, it’s gone. We are about to start. Mark McPherson runs his hands down his jacket to smooth an invisible line. Maybe it’s them or maybe it’s me but there is defiantly a sharp air of anticipation about the place. Opening nights can often go ‘either way’ - like a rare house cat or a professional football player. I’m anxious. I want this to be great. I want my friends to come and love the Hijacked work. I want Mark McPherson to say ‘yeah’. I want the artists to see the crowds of visitors loving/hating their work in equal measure and most importantly, I want the ABC arts program to film me looking intelligent and sexy. As the plastic bags of cold ice in my hand cut a little deeper I walk behind the bar and fill the troughs with an endless supply of cheap white wine. Note to self, one should never underestimate the general public’s insatiable thirst for free alcohol. To counter this desire galleries all over the world supply their patrons with what I commonly refer to as Art Gallery Wine, its free, it’s disgusting and always packs a killer hang over. After three attempts at locating the ABC camera crew who are mysteriously lost in an alley somewhere the producer of the show assembles the fresh faced Hijacked artists at the entrance of the gallery because ‘we didn’t realize it would be dark so early’ for the group shot. The camera pans in and then widens as the twenty or so artists walk toward the camera and despite the obvious cliché most of the artists have an enormous sense of pride and respect for their work and a real sense of achievement. Pangs of jealous wave through me and I have to fight an impulse to just run in front of them. Front of house already has a bad reputation for attention seeking behaviour and refrainment is preferred. I guess I’m just excited for them. As the night progresses we move through speeches and the business end of the evening, Alasdair Foster talks about contemporary photography and tells us the meaning of life and lastly mentions something that will not be forgotten. The sheer volume of work he sees and the obvious delight at coming across something as special and unique as Hijacked. I’m in agreement. Just as speeches are wrapping up someone grabs me and says I should jump in front of some work and talk about what I like about it. I panic. It’s my moment. I look around at all the super keen first year art students gushing over their favorite works talking directly into the camera, smiling, laughing, representing. Someone tugs on my shirt and says again, ‘you’ll love this, its your opportunity, its your chance’ I go to walk towards the camera, a head full of things to say about what I love about Hijacked, but my feet wont, cant don’t move. Like lead. I’m stuck. How could I possibly critique this exhibition? Who do I think I am? The person tugging on my shirt finally leaves in search of another young enthusiastic person actually willing to discuss the Hijacked work on the arts program. All around me I can hear snippets of typical opening night conversations, ‘what is a zine?’ How do you pronounce it? It’s sort of like to help the starving kids in Africa… or India. I heard she’s got a chic habit. Why don’t you just blog yourself into celebrity? He’s really up and coming but I will never buy his work etc etc. I love these nights and I never tire of the bullshit because I love the work, the freshness of it, the newness of it and the occasional danger in it. Later that night I’m alone in the gallery, I have a secret love affair with this time and consider the intimacy a privilege. This is my chance to take in the work and to commune with it. It’s an eerie feeling to replace a gallery with over 450 people in it with just one. Me. Here, sudden intricacies and the subtle details make themselves known and pan into a common thread and I think about the collective subconscious and I smile to myself and think about how much I would love the ABC arts program to film me right now, thinking intelligent things and then I sigh and remember that its all about the collective subconscious and we are kind of all connected anyway and my thoughts were probably conveyed subliminally to the hosts of the show and I laugh and think about how much I love this show, the dynamic energy and the dynamic conflict. Hijacked.
Nicolas Hose, New Century Modern Man, Actor, Writer and Art Critic.
All photos courtesy of Emmanuel Giraud © 2008.
One Video Still by Duncan Barnes © 2008.

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