Since I was a little girl I've been making dens....and don't think I'll ever stop..........

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Still from Deja Vu, Maria Pask

I think I expected too much at the re-opening of Modern Art Oxford last Sarurday with it's newly covered outside exhibition space The Yard. The outdoor exhibition/cafe space was designed by architects at dRMM (de Ritjke Marsh Morgan) along with artist Richard Woods.
We'd been promised Art, Confectionary, Live Music and extended opening hours until 10am on Thursday to Saturday evenings. What more could we want, apart from maybe the hours extending even longer?

The last time I went to a preview at MOA was for the Obsessions Exhibition in 2008 held on a similar warm Spring evening. It had such a carnival, celebratory feel about it. People were spilling out onto Pembroke Street with glasses of wine and cigarettes in their hands to escape the hubub inside. Some to have a quick smoke, others to engage in quiet conversation. The buzz increased on entering the foyer as voices gradually got louder in an attempt to be heard over the sound of audio installations, and as they imbibed more wine.

In contrast, the first thing that hit us on turning into Pembroke Street last Saturday at 9pm was the lack of noise.....the second was the lack of people. No voices, no music, nobody......At first I thought we'd got the wrong evening. I checked and the lights were on in MAO and I could see someone inside watching a video next to an enormous stick of celery! We ventured in and were asked by that person if we'd come for the music and were told that there'd been a problem so there wasn't any. We asked if the gallery and cafe were opened. We were told that the exhibition in the entrance hall was open but not the one upstairs. Our disapointment was obviously noted and so we were told that the films upstairs were still running and so we could go and watch them.

Where was everyone? What had gone wrong? It's a shame it was such a let down and it was really embarrasing for us and whoever it was that was locking up the Gallery. But the exhibitions were interesting.

....and getting back to the huge celery stick I must say that Maria Pask's video Deja Vu was amusing. I'm fascinated by social history, records, diaries etc and as this piece was inspired by Rosehill Roundabout a community newsletter produced in the 1950's to 60's for the Rosehill housinng estate I was soon drawn in.

The other galleries exhibited films by Joanna Billing. One that caught my attention was entitled Where She Is At. It was filmed at the Ingierstrand Bath in Oslo. The protagonist was standing at the top of a very high diving tower debating whether or not to dive off into the water below. I was compelled to wait and find out whether or not she did....... The actual installation of the video screen atop a tall wooden tower effectively helped to draw me into the film's perspective in a physical sense. Maybe because although I'm not afraid of heights, I don't swim and have horrible memories of being made to jump into the deep end of the swimming pool in school swimming lessons.

I will probably have another look at the exhibition whilst it's on and as the ever-optimistic person that I am...I am still excited at the prospect of the new lively MOA when it is eventually completed especially as I notice from their website
( )that The Yard will be opening on May 8th with an exhibition by Richard Woods....apparently he's even designed the aprons for the cafe staff...I can't wait....

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