Waiting for Gelitin : Open Thread
The gist of Gavin's post is as follows:
We live in a world of increasing speed and immediacy, but a strange phenomenon has been growing in the art world - delay. There has been a rise in art installations and exhibitions where gallery-goers have to queue to see the work. Eager audiences line up and linger to get a glimpse of an art work at the end. Perhaps surprisingly they often wait rather patiently - as if the soul-fulfilling piece at the end makes the delay better.Gavin lists a few recent examples in Britain, but we've seen a few here this side of the pond as well (the queues for Gelitin's interaction at Leo Konigs' a while back being high among them in my memory, but then I tend to break out in hives at the mere thought of a queue, so I don't keep an ongoing list and tend to try to visit blockbusters during off hours).
Why are we waiting? Is this delay tactic a way of forcing us to spend more time with the art work rather than the average number of seconds? After waiting to see a work, there's a natural bloody-minded desire to really look at it, even if just to spite the rest of the queue behind you. Perhaps some artists or curators feel that the art should be viewed in a less crowded space, but is it better art if you have to wait to see it?When I think of people who will happily queue up and patiently wait, like the British or the Russians, they tend to be folks who experienced great scarcity of staples (because of WWII mostly) within recent memory. While visiting Leningrad (during the days of the USSR), we happened upon some folks queuing up, with one woman joining the queue first and then asking what it was for. This linkage of need and patient queuing may offer the most insight into why art queues are so well-behaved generally. Which lends credence to this interesting comment on Gavin's thread:
Blockbuster exhibitions have exploited the drama and hype of the queue for years. It's also not only an English phenomenon: in France, people will quite happily stand in line for an exhibition for up to an hour if there is cultural enlightenment at the end. Maybe waiting adds something to the whole sense of pilgrimage. Just be warned: it's only a matter of time before some installation or performance artist transforms the queue itself into part of the exhibition ...
we are queueing because we have been taught that we are impoverished. We have been made dependent upon entertainment, whether it be low or high brow. We have been taught to crave. Our experience of 'the great' has to be had elbow to elbow with countless other impoverished souls. We no longer exist inside ourselves, but rather as part of some dislocated, disassociated mass, but well-healed, nevertheless.
There's possibly also something to the idea of this good behavior being mostly due to the widely held notion that viewing art demands a certain decorum (which owning a gallery, I wholly support, mind you).
But this notion that anticipation adds something to the eventual art viewing experience...I can't decide. I like to think that the most powerful artwork would stop you in your tracks were you fleeing a burning building. But does indeed a bit of the drama of a queue cleanse the visual palette, so to speak? We go to great lengths to clear away everything but the art in the white cubes we call galleries, facilitating the experience of coming upon the work with no other distractions. Does waiting merely give one time to clear one's mind of the myriad daily concerns? In the end, I think not. I think waiting just sucks.
What do you think?