At art school in NY city, I learned an important lesson that no ridiculous amount of tuition could have taught me: no one is about to hold your hand in any way and the real world should start now. This is the big city, there are no dorm rooms or cafeterias or campus transportation. Go figure it out for yourself.
Not surprisingly, SVA itself operated very similarly. Are you a photo student? … No? … Then go back to the sculpture building, you can’t use the darkroom. It became a struggle to operate outside of your department, to use a freaking scanner in the graphics design lab.
Good. This is exactly what it was going to be like later, and I saw that right away. If you want to do it, you’ll find a way. What will happen when you leave the institutional system and you need to use an offset press? You find a co-op press and volunteer there in exchange for time on the machines. This was the same for showing your work, go find a space and organize, it’s not a gallery, but you aren’t ready anyway. Have some bands play, sell some beer, learn what it takes to not lose any money.
So I completely understood when I went to see a ‘new video work’ show in lower Manhattan, I was expecting an ‘alternative’ space. I mean as long as you have a DVD player and a TV, you too can be showing new video work. It turned out to be a ground floor apartment space, and I saw in the listing that there was going to be work by Ryan Trecartin, that’s what got me there in the first place. I had just seen his work in the Whitney Biennial, and it was one of the only things I watched, and appreciated. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up staying long enough to see it.
But not for the reasons you would think.
A lot of people turned out, drinking cheap beer, all talking and hanging out. This doesn’t sound bad at all, and in any other situation it would have been fine. It was like being in high school and going to watch a band practice in a garage.
Then the old man inside me just got too annoyed with the lack of air conditioning, and the guys hitting on a girl standing next to me. It was too distracting to even attempt to watch the videos. Frankly, it was too much work. This show couldn’t have been for people like me anyway. They didn’t want someone to come in and try to actually see the work and maybe talk about what might be happening in their part of the world.
The two videos I saw of backwards fireworks, and a vintage looking music video, were boring, but before I even saw what was coming next I heard some whispering how the bathroom was locked again and they couldn’t find the key. I decided to leave immediately before people took matters into their own hands.
I guess what I’m saying is it doesn’t hurt to have a shred of professionalism. I’m not asking a lot, God knows I’m not going to openings in a suit, and given the choice between this and some opening in Chelsea, I would still rather go to this. It’s just disappointing that a few simple things can prevent anyone from seeing the work, anyone who isn’t your friends friend, especially when it’s announced publicly. Isn’t that the point of all this? To share your vision, your creation with other people? Did you really want anyone outside your little world to come? It didn’t seem like it. Maybe this was just another excuse for a party, show your friends’ videos, pretend to be a gallery for a night. That’s all fine, this old bastard has better things to do on a Wednesday night.
I may have even been guilty of these things organizing my first events, so I guess now I understand, but is it that simple? Is that the lessons you have to learn, and you may as well do it while no one cares about your work anyway? Youth of America I am disappointed, so congratulations, obviously that’s what you wanted anyway.
That’s the last time I walk two miles in the summer heat to see your video show.