This week’s Saturday Perspectives and Thinking Aloud sessions were facinating, with intense discussion, generated by the exhibition, as to who determines what the ‘value’ of art works is, and where we as viewers think that value lies. At one stage within the gallery there was quite a fierce discussion that attracted input from others who had not started off with the session, but were drawn in by the strength of feeling being voiced. The oft-repeated exclamations of “I could do that” are easily applied to some of the pieces, particularly in reference to those pieces where there is an element of supposed ‘randomness’ in the execution, the ‘gestural’ work (as described by Lutz Becker) taken to its furthest expression. The strength of feeling, both in challenging and in defending the work, was a timely reminder of how important getting to grips with the nature of “art” feels to many people. Context was identified as being terribly important when attempting to assess the impact of individual pieces; many people in the gallery yesterday expressed their delight at the opportunity the exhibition gives for a wide range of pieces to “speak to” each other. One man said it was like viewing a private collection and that for him that felt like an unusual experience in a public gallery. It was generally felt that the strength of Modern Times lies in the juxtaposition of the different works, and if one had quibbles with individual pieces the collection as a whole is surprising and challenging, offering a pluralism of voices (and responses) that is apposite as a reflection of Modern Times (both 20th Century and into the 21st.)

Posted by Ryan Coleman on Sunday 16 May 2010