Liverpool Biennial 2010: Embarassment

Art Inevitably Stephen Fry has written something which is pertinent to the experience of visiting most of the Biennial exhibitions. True, the talk was given at a totally unrelated event at the Royal Academy in London in June and yet:
"It sometimes seems that the only safe way to go round an exhibition is entirely on one’s own, otherwise we’re in terrible fear of looking like a show-off, or an ignoramus, or affected or blasé or pretentious or philistine or something equally shaming and dreadful. We yearn to be open, to learn, to be provoked, to engage honestly, simply and truthfully with a work, but to do so we must leave our self-aware, social, verbal and public selves behind. But how hard that is when we are in such a public sphere. The very fact of our being in a populous gathering automatically activates all those tribal status, power and perception regions of our brain that are death to plain, honest, naked encounters with art."
The problem is, all too often as we shuffle about these exhibitions, is that we're inhibited, not rarely wanting to engage with the total stranger standing next to us about the collective experience we're both sharing. As I discovered on preview night, having someone to engage with about the art can mean everything.

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