Recently when I went to hang works at what sounded like an eager invitation for a solo show by a premier instruction in Manhattan, I was enthused and asked if I might include works of some fellow artists who share a similar narrative and organize a small reception for friends and supporters – possibly patrons as well! “You can do anything you want with the show, your works are what we would like to see in this space” were the words of the admin responsible for the show. Guilty of being an artist, always eager for a bit of eyeball in all humility lugged the large pieces with hardware, at the same time exchanging niceties to the best of my abilities to all whom I encountered within that space.
By and by many people came along to vet their curiosity also to access the washroom not too far from the space. Being that it was the first time when I was attempting to arrange with care works by different artists under the same visual thread, it took a while, the lights were making me hot and the incessant hammering perhaps annoyed the all powerful admin folks in the building. All the eager folks asked questions, being the sucker for punishment, I answered with warmth and enthusiasm. Then all of a sudden I was confronted by a barrage of questions about who the rest of the artists were, and what right they had to have their works included in the show. This then, was followed by legal documents, “We need to have release forms filled out, until then all works must be taken down.” Was the verdict of the all powerful administrative assistant?
The international artists, despite their fabulous works and respectable backgrounds were the first to be eliminated. Then came turn for the local artists to be chopped. I tried being sensible and accommodating especially since I am keenly aware of being accused of being “stubborn” on a few occasions in the past. In the end, I was only able to include works of two other local artists, when in fact I visited the prospect taking down all works including my own. This incident made me reflect on the desired demeanor or conduct of an artist – someone who is responsible for resonating the underpinning of mass perception. How far does the artist need to stoop to conquer the all powerful admin?