I had a series of informal conversations about Beuys in the exhibition on Saturday, which seemed to make more sense than giving a formal ‘tour’. I like the idea of Beuys’ artworks as prompts for discussion rather than as closed traces of something that happened years ago. There seemed to be a certain amount of frustration evident. To some of the visitors, the work appeared completely closed and the relative lack of interpretative material was mentioned several times. For me, it raised the question of how much interpretation is too much? In all my gallery conversations, it felt like I was sounding out an approach, trying to encourage the sceptics to give the art the benefit of the doubt and aiming more than anything to generate a dialogue and then keep it going.

The speaker later in the day was Salma Nathoo who gave a presentation on ‘Consciousness as material in ecological art’. The event began with a few minutes of silent concentration, made tricky (but interesting) by the noises rising up through the building. The presentation and subsequent discussion was wide-ranging, from the ‘butterfly effect’ to ‘the secret’. One of the main questions seemed to be (at least for me) how far changes in individual consciousness have an effect on the collective.

I’m hoping that Salma will comment on this post so the conversation can be developed further through an online dialogue (rather than a very partial monologue)!

Posted by Ryan Coleman on Monday 24 August 2009