I’ve been asked to leave Bristol’s Arnolfini Gallery twice now and I’m beginning to get annoyed. There’s an exhibition on at the moment called “Pale Carnage”. It brings together twelve artists, each attempting to address the ideas of cruelty, desire, beauty, decadence, voyeurism and violence, and despite it being the the Times’ top five exhibitions to see this month, my initial impression was that it was crap. So I joined a tour but an hour later and I’m still none the wiser. “So what do we think?” asks the guide as we pause by a photo of a woman with a flower up her whatsit. “Honestly?” I say. “Of course” says the guide. “I think it’s pretentious nonsense and a waste of gallery space” I say. Uh oh. FIve minutes later my rant is interrupted and the guide politely asks me to leave as I am “disrupting the talk”. Now I consider myself an open minded person, and a big fan of contemporary art, but when someone videos a pair of knees and puts it in a gallery I want to know why. And even then I still might not like it, but by understanding why the artist felt compelled to do it in the first place I can at least appreciate their work a little more.
“Pale Carnage” is on at Bristol’s Arnolfini ’till the end of April 2007 – please check it out if only to prove me wrong. Have a look around, read the leaflet, form your own opinion. Just don’t tell the tour guide.