Cyrus at the Speed Portfolio Viewing

We asked Cyrus Smith, the young Canadian Artist we have followed through his Kunsthalle Waiting line -Dante macht Kunst-  to describe his experience at the Speed Portfolio Viewing event last Sunday. Here it goes:


Cyrus Smith and Lily Khositashvii

As an artist, any opportunity to show your work to an ‘operating’ curator is usually in your best interest. Exposure, as they say, is exactly that. Over the weekend, Bigs had their fourth Speed Portfolio Viewing at L40. The concept is as brilliant as it is exhausting, for the organizers and for the participants. 20+ artists get the chance to ‘expose’ themselves to 10+ curators in a matter of 3 short hours. With the stipulation being you are only allowed a 12-minute time slot per curator to explain what you do. The following events took place on Sunday, June 7th:

10:13am: Wake up to a horrible sounding alarm. I try to move, realizing that I am coming out of a misguided night full of toxication and disappointment. Why did I go out last night? I knew I had the SPV today. Drowsy and unclear on how reality functions, I re-assess my presentation. Editing anything in this state tends to be either insightful or a miserable folly.

12:37am: Somehow 2 hours passed. I jam my laptop into a bag and get on my bicycle toward L40. Speedily approaching what could prove to be the best, or worst blind date on Sunday afternoon.

12:56pm: I arrive at L40. I gravitate toward the complimentary coffee and cookies, hoping to blast myself into a reasonable state of cohesion in order to communicate with strangers.

2012, Cheap piece of nothing, acrylic on canvas, 250 x 190cm

13:12pm: Finish with my first appointment with Elena Gilbert. I don’t even know if what I said made any sense, not to mention that I’m sure my breath at this point could melt glass. However it was, for the first encounter, okay. I think she liked my work. But I’m a dolt. I realize now that I have no cards or contact info to hand out to anyone. We opted to get in contact through, ulp, facebook.

13:30pm: A much needed break in my schedule appears. I have 30 minutes to reflect upon my last encounter with institu. It may have gone worst than the first. One person was manageable, but three made me a little anxious, and I was talking super fast, like an auctioneer selling cattle. Gilles from insitu tries to calm me by reminding me that 12 minutes is enough time, but the coffee was taking over. Marie kept asking me to speak louder.  I got the impression they were not that interested in my work (which is fine) and were just being polite but I could be wrong. Nora did invite me down to the space to see what they have going on there, but it’s quite possible my work doesn’t apply to their grand scheme. I can never tell. I did notice Gilles ran for coffee as soon as it was almost over. Never the less, a story is forming that I can repeat if all else fails.

14:12pm: The break helped. Following the advice from another artist, Vikenti Komitski, about dehydration, I went for water. A lot of water. It is halfway through the event and I finally remember where I am and what I am doing. Having a studio visit with one curator is, at times, taxing enough. Having five presentations in three hours is a bit overwhelming. My computer’s battery is dying. I am talking with Peter Lang and the 35-minute charge is running out, but I can’t stop to plug it in. My only hope is that if it does die during the slide show, it would look cool? He quite enjoyed the humor in my work. It’s nice to put smiles on people’s faces. We both notice that out laptops have tape over the camera. He asks to see more pictures of my stuff, but I couldn’t provide him with any more in the time allotted.

2013, SUPERMEGAFUNAWESOMEPARTYTIME, installation view, various media

14:30pm: I meet with Lily Khositashvii. Before I could get into the routine I developed, she starts to flip through my images super fast and I can’t keep up with any clear explanation. It catches me off guard but she tells me to keep talking. Then she says something I rarely hear in reference to Graffiti, “I like tags”. “Thank You!” I exclaim. We both agree they can be much more interesting than the larger colorful spray painted pieces that are usually credited to be beautiful and good ‘art’.  From there we talk about Typography, graffiti, and the beauty of this aesthetic until the clock runs dry. I am finally relaxed and completely in my element. She inquires about my studio and if one may come visit it. Yes one may, Lily.

14:42: Found a plug for my dying computer in the artist’s room. I mingle with some of the fellow artists on the balcony. Meeting Christian Jeppsson, I couldn’t help be envious of his approach. He had brought with him physical portfolios that he presented from and then could leave with the curators. What a great idea! Vikenti returns to the balcony with a frozzen strawbery punch spiked with vodka, courtesy of Bigs. Apparently there was a grapefruit-ginger-carrot Power Smoothie at the beginning which I totally missed! They definetely seem to be keeping their cool...Despina is announcing the date-endings with Halloween sounds for Gds sake.

15:15pm: My last speed date was with Annette Schemmel. It starts smooth, as it now feels like routine. She gives me a few names to look up as the artists apply to what I am doing and vise versa. This is all I could ask for. It was a lovely finish to a delirious afternoon of first encounters.

I can only imagine what the experience would be like from the curators stand point... Like watching art television with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Overall it was a great experience, I know now what to do and what not to do for next time. The most important being to get a good nights rest.

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