The artist is present

Nicholas Byrne, Anthea Hamilton, Jack McConville, Rallou Panagiotou, Despina Stokou @remap4

I used to think of openings like birthday parties. You prepare something special and your friends, their friends and their friends friends come to celebrate you and your accomplishments and share alcohol, which should ideally be served for free and in big quantities.  Of course there is no music, the lights are way too bright and it is not really your home, but a stranger’s place that has a big window, but no sofas and most of the objects present, besides the wine glasses in our hands (no red wine) are for sale, so I guess the similarities stop early.

Nathan Baker @Kavi Gupta - his show Participle runs until Jan 25, 2014

Openings are a peculiar affair for everyone present I think. From the collector who dares not breath in front of a painting lest he gets a print out, two catalogues and a sales agreement saying sign here, here and here.

To the journalist who is constantly introduced between whispers and nods “Here is Marc ( a r t r e v i e w) This is the artist. (Tell him something about your work!!!)” to the poor regular visitor who has to shift through empty ice buckets for beer, gets elbowed away by gallerinas select- serving wine and is signaled to leave by the lights simply switching off.

Things can of course get even more awkward for the artists, who have to perform a peculiar balancing act while drinking on an empty stomach. (Artist will not feed unless you feed them). As an artist, you are “on display”, but not really because it is actually just your work on view. You are “in the centre of attention”, but not really because unless you are famous or wear a red dress (you should not wear a red dress) people do not really know how you look like. People are there to listen to what you have to say, but not really because lets face it, who has that much time?

Ugo Rondinone (at the back) extends a last greeding before leaving, while Ramicen Crucible gallerist continues to stand next to the eggs (sculpture) as he did the whole night in case somebody breaks or takes them. 

Lizzy Bougatsos at her opening I am not Pregnant @James Fuentes. Plant at the back is part of the installation, flowers a present.  

Over the years, I have seen different artists take different approaches to get through these critical hours. A common, recurring solution is of course getting absolutely hammered.  But there are other ways.

There is the artist hiding hangover in the toilette.

The roaring, drink-out-of-the-champagne-bottle artist, who also makes sure to display his genitalia at least on two occasions by the end of the night.

Ignacio Uriarte at his show Line of Work @Drawing Center

Your friendly artist-next-door, who will take the time to explain every little detail of his practice.

The He-is-Out-Smoking-Type.

The Broody Celebrity type, who will sit in a corner and not budge an inch. Or the senile celebrity type, who will (understandably) only appear for three minutes.

Gavin Kenyon @Ramiken Crucible (leather jacket)

Conversation at openings is, naturally, a marginally sane affair. There is small talk, there is some trash talk, but unfortunately you never get to hear it at your own show, some name dropping and a lot of random, random remarks. Most conversations are short and some stop so abrupt they leave skid marks...

- So what do you do for a leaving?
- I am a journalist.
- Interesting, what kind?
- Politics.
- Oh that is cool!
- Women are not that interested in politics.
- This is a very apolitical thing to say.

-Hi! Is it English or German with you?
- Beides geht…
-Despina spricht sehr gut Deutsch.
-Oh ok. Also das sind deine Arbeiten, ha? Cool! Oh I am sorry is it German or English I am confused.
- Ahm…both.
- Oh cool. Was steht here?  You do speak German right?

-You know that gallery in London. South Blake.
- South Blake, I do not know it.
- Doch doch, kennst Du bestimmt. Blane South.
- Blane South…
- He means Blain & Southern.

- Serpentine gallery is closed for the winter.
- No it is not. I am going there for an opening next week.
- We were there last week, there was a sign on the door, it said they close for the winter.
- I am going to an opening there next FRIDAY.

- So you are selling a lot.

- The curator of ***** was here. She likes more conceptual stuff, but she liked yours too.

- I do not like it when there is a lot of white canvas left.

- This is nice do you have more of those?
- Yes I also have one with little watermelons on it.

- I like it. What is it?

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