Monday, November 28, 2005

An exhibition associated with Royal Worcester Infimary Installation showed photographs of the building showing the old wards in varying states of dereliction peeling paint and plasterwork nicely composed to show interesting textures and subtle colour effects created by damp and neglect. Then some striking photographs of what I took to be a former patient taken in what was probably the former physiotherapy gym. The model was nude and her legs and arms deformed – she was probably a thalidomide victim. The photographs were not repulsive, there are far more shocking images shown in newsreel but they were startling. The model clearly co-operated willingly and there was a simple dignity about her as she posed; ‘Look at me I’m not ashamed of my body.’ Were then they beautiful? Well no but then I confess to some prejudice against the photographed nude because of the limited artistic range it has. Artistically nude photography hardly rates compared with sculpture which does the incomplete body much better. As examples, The Venus de Milo, Michelangelso’s slaves or the torso’s of Aristide Mailliol and Eric Gill.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The video installations which are the current preoccupation of museum curators are a bore. I encountered one in Worcester recently commissioned, using I suppose Arts Council money, to mark the closure of the old Royal Worcester Infirmary. The RWI was a fine old building which nevertheless fails to meet the standards of present day health practice. The video was filmed in one of the corridors which had doors leading to a staircase at one end. A sequence of apparently unrelated incidents occurred. An old man in a raincoat entered through the doors and stood motionless at the side of the corridor. A young woman entered from a side door and performed rather graceful ballet movements, though the old man did not appear to be aware of her. Finally a young boy suddenly appeared sitting on the floor in the foreground playng a board game. The only bit I enjoyed was when the boy had to reach over to retrieve his dice after a mistimed throw and gave a self-conscious smile to the camera. Good he was living and not a ghost! What was the point of the triple sequence? I hope someone might be able to tell me – in plain words rather than arty jargon.