Yestserday I went to the South London Gallery to have a look at the annex they will be opening in the summer - they took over the hosue next door, basically, and they've done clever things with it. Now there's a brilliant flat for an artist in residence on the top, with a view I was envious of, and downstairs they have all sorts of useful spaces for exhibitions and events, and what looks set to be a new lovely neighborhood cafe.
I also wanted to see the Art Bin before it ended. It's "monument to creative failure" by Michael Landy, basically a huge transparent skip filling a whole room with a metal staircase to climb up and throw away your "failed" art. After this weekend, it all goes to a landfill. - Reading about it I thought: hmmm, whatever, and wondered if this was another comment on censorship, book burnings and such. But actually seeing it I was struck by a sudden sense of... joy! I love it! I really want to take some art there myself to dispose of before Monday.
I am so very familiar with the feeling of staring at some piece of FAIL I've produced using time and thought and materials, something layered and marked and laden with intention and, if I'm actually being honest, useless and boring. Then what? If one has a garden, one can put it between some temporarily boring potted plants for a splash of colour and hope it weathers well, somehow. If not, one can give it to a friend who needs something random to liven up a corner in their cafe or something, and then know that one will have to see it there again and again.
Or... YES! One can throw it away. One can. Yes. I can! Because I made it, it's mine, and it's not alive. It's just a waste of space. And not every mark I make deserves to be treasured. HOORAY!
I enjoyed seeing children with notepads writing about their favourite object and at what angle it was sticking out of the mass of stuff and what sound they figured it had made hitting the pile. Some of the paintings were slashed and kicked and mutilated beforehand. I wondered if that had been done in anger or joy. I also wondered how many things in there were former love tokens, stuff that you can't sell (it was a gift!), they wouldn't want it back, and you don't want to display (love is over and object isn't treasured beyond that). What joy it must have been to trash some of these! What relief, and sometimes, what a welcome sense of a non-event.
I wondered if there was anything in there that I'd like to rescue, and I decided: no. This isn't the aftermath of a hateful raid. This is just some art that the person who owned it (more often, who made it) thought wasn't very good, and wasn't good to give to anyone, neither. And so they let it go. - Yay.
(Mind you, better recyle than landfill, in everyday life. My own failed art goes mostly into the waste paper bank, in folded wodges.)
I left feeling happy and bouncy and thinking about new things to do.