Monday, 27 July 2009

Back in the real world

I've been pretty holed up in my house recently, almost exclusively writing and felting. I feel that I've lost a little of my connection to the city and what's going on in it - I somehow missed much of the M'cr International Festival, even though I'd wanted to see the Marina Abramovic show for ages. I got to be part of the festival at the very end, with the Book Market, but everything else passed me by.

I'm wanting to get back into things - experiencing all the art that's on offer in Manchester, and I've just come across a site to help me with that. It's apparently aimed at the 'Creative Tourist', but it has info on loads of great stuff that I want to go and see/do that I don't have to be a tourist to be interested in. I'm especially keen on the new show at the Cube called City as Gymnasium, which is on until Oct 3rd. That's a pretty plainly descriptive title, but from what I've read the show sounds interesting.

One thing I have seen recently that I've found very inspiring and engaging is Gustav Metzger's Flailing Trees, which I saw in the Peace Gardens. There's an interesting recording of the artist describing the work on the Guardian website. There are a few other people on the recording giving their reactions to the work, and I was intrigued to hear them commenting on the relation of the work to the environment and conservation. I really didn't perceive the piece as having any relation to that in such a raw and direct sense. To me, it seemed to be much more about forcing observation through a perception shift, and it made me feel more aware of the world around me and the natural components of that. I felt that it wasn't really 'save the environment' as much as it was simply and honestly saying 'notice the environment'.

I really liked it, and not just because it's made of willow trees. One thing I found slightly distracting about it is that I didn't know how the trees were being kept alive. The piece is meant to be transferred to the Whitworth, but I didn't see how the trees could be maintained when they're kept upside down in concrete. I know that's quite a petty concern, I knew that even when I thought it while standing in front of the trees. But I thought it, and I couldn't help myself. When I got back I looked it up and found out that nothing is being done to keep the trees alive, so while they're very green and healthy-looking now (apart from the upside-down in concrete thing), they will die and dry out, and that is also part of the sculpture - it's a dying, rather than a living sculpture.

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