By Kane Laing
In Review – City Gallery
March 1, 2015
(an art review) by Sharon Lam
Trying to discover my next review topic, I wondered if it was possible to review a restaurant as an art exhibition and i wondered about the tropes of art reviews and art galleries. We only understand these things through conventions. I was then shown a review of the city gallery that nicely embodied these thoughts; In Review: The City Gallery by Sharon Lam.
“Immediately upon entry, an artist approached us and requested that we surrender our backpacks and coats—we were shocked! Although we were prepared for controversial avant-garde pieces, to be confronted so early on threw us off! Upon debaggaging our items, I felt my own personal baggage lightening, which I found worrying and alarming. “
This is obviously no ordinary review, it is a piece of creative writing pretending to be an art review, even going as far as to appear in Victoria University’s student magazine Salient. It’s beautiful.
On face value it is a silly spoof of art reviews and the conventions in contemporary art galleries, and it’s got some great lines that are pretty accessible for any one who has ever visited an art gallery. Perhaps it never aspired to be more than a comedy nugget, but underneath it does expose the conventions and tropes of art galleries and art reviews with their particular language and jargon.
If it wasn’t for the existence of the conventions there would be no comedy, the secret to good comedy is to point out reality and make the audience take a look at its absurdity. Conventions are helpful in creating context, which is important and if we had no conventions everything would be abstract and we’d get nowhere. But it is important to be critical of conventions as we can become complacent and take them for granted or without question, which does not help to produce an engaged, educated and progressive society. But comedy and satire are great tools in understanding conventions, they are accessible re-presentations of reality. In the case of this review it is maybe nothing critically ground-breaking, but it’s funny! I often feel like the most effective and on-point part of a news-paper is its political cartoons. But maybe that’s just me.
As sacred as art can be, we should never lose the ability to laugh at it and poke fun at something our culture (or high-culture) holds in such high regard in our culture.
Nice review, i give it 5 stars.
(screen capture from Salient website)