It happens again: the peaceful feeling we have while leaving an art museum after almost two hours of intensive looking, watching, reading, wondering, admiring, criticizing,… Walking into a museum, or an exposition, is entering another world, a parallel universe in which every daily objects, figures, formal elements as we all know are deconstructed and reconstructed subsequently by the mind and the hands of the artists. It is where we slowly drown into a lake made of poetic matter, where we look, think, act, feel in a completely different way from in the world where we come from.
Then, like usual, which is a great pity, coming in also means we’d have to leave. The body, reluctantly passes through the exit door, while the mind still lingers on the rough surface of a painting, next to the pedestal of a copper statue, or along a long corridor of the museum where one by one, each art work on the wall comes into view as we walk on. Inside our mind is then a mosaic image of all pictures, paintings, drawings, statues, installations,… we’ve just had the chance to contemplate. Political statements, social interventions, artistic positions,…; those, together with the art works themselves, stay with us still for a long time afterwards, and influence the way we see and think about the real world we thought we knew.
That’s what is happening to me as I’m typing these words while eating a sandwich in a corner of my school’s cafetaria, just half an hour after having left the S.M.A.K (municipal museum of contemporary art) in Ghent, where the exposition The bottom line is held. The bottom line focuses on the results of drawing as well as the act of it. Works from 53 international artists are shown, including Adel Abdessemed, Anne-Mie van Kerkhoven, Elly Strik, Raymond Pettibon, Michaël Borremans, Francis Alÿs, Marc Bauer,…
Walking around in such a big exposition, it was impressive and overwhelming at the same time, being able to witness so many aspects of drawing and getting to learn about all the different positions the artists have taken towards the society, the spectators, and towards themselves.
However, these mental and emotional influences are not the only thing I’ve received after the visit this time. I left the museum, not only as a spectator, but as part of an artwork.
“Am I the 910th person receiving this drawing on the writing hand?”
“Yes, you’ve added one person to a total of 1000,” said the Italian artist Andrea Galiazzo, as he finished the automatic drawing on my right hand, using markers in various colours. It was part of his performance: drawing on people’s hands and leaving the lifetime of his art totally dependant on the desire of the participants.
Just like a library, a museum is a place to be when knowledge and serenity are the two things you need.