I always more or less like the idea of installations - rooms and spaces that are works of art in themselves because of the things that are there, which are not going to be paintings or sculpture in any very obvious sense. In practice, I rarely actually like the shows of this kind that I go to - they always strike me as more the product of thought than feeling. And it is not that I don't believe that there is quite a lot of thought behind, say, the Tracey Emin bed - I don't have a problem with regarding it as the product of a more or less serious artistic decision which I respect - it is just that I did not get a whole lot of pleasure from it; the only thing I liked in her bit of the Turner show that year was her drawings, which no-one ever talks about because they are, just, drawings.
My friend Cherry, who is a poet and art critic, suggested that we go to a show at the Whitechapel Art Gallery and hey! I like Cherry, who is cute and Irish and has a mean wit and a helmet of black hair. Also, she has good taste - she is one of the people who make me look at new work rather than being an old fart who would prefer to stick with painterly painting. She has rarely steered me wrong.
The Christine Yglesias show is a good example of what she periodically gets me to look at - and from the first room we were in, I knew that I liked this. Not a lot, not passionately - but it will stay in me in the way art does, and crop up as furniture in my dreams. One room had a grey ceiling of plaster with sea-urchins and leaves studded into it, and photographs on copper of what appeared to be Spanish streets, but were mostly models made out of cigarette and wine boxes. It was like being under a piece of Gaudi architecture and looking out at things which ought not to be that large.
Another room was full of greened copper trellis screens made up of what might be parts of letters and might just be shapes; another had screens made of decaying vegetations or tentacles that led you into alcoves that were not there, just implied beyond corners; another had blocks of concrete at angles to the walls, and after the screens and trellises you look at the concrete and see them as studies in texture and shade even if it is gray on gray. Lastly, there was a basket thing hanging from a ceiling that smelt of straw and made you look up through gaps and feel that you were not seeing the whole thing, whatever angle you got at to it.
These are games and mystery-mongering and the smell of the work was part of the effect - somehow there was saffron and turmeric in the air in some of the rooms - but yes, this is the real thing even if it is not a martyr, with the symbols of their execution and saintly patronage, in heavy perspective, in oils, with a cute marmoset in a corner, like proper paintings.
And then I went to the new X-men movie.
As you would expect, more terribly efficient Bryan Singer movie making and even more than the first one a respect for the actors that lets them actually carry scenes with looks and gestures as much as a middling good script. Bits of continuity from all over the saga, of course - the Grant Morrison Cerebro plot and some trad Claremont stuff with the homophobia refs piled up to the point where Iceman's mother is quoting Joyce Summers...Lots of Mystique and a surprising amount of Mozart and a brilliant opening in the White House - which proved to me, reviewed favourably by Alex Walker in the Standard, that he can neither understand sf nor count.
Plus an endings which gives the desolate Cyclops and Wolverine such a strong air of 'Oh god, she is not here to mediate between us so we had better find a room and just do it' that slash becomes main stream yet again. If there is a better SFX film this summer I will be pleasantly surprised - it is one for the second Matrix to beat.
Alas, Terminator 3, Charlie's Angels 2, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - none of these look especially good from the trailers and yet I know I shall go and see each and every one of them.
I shall just have to find some major art to go with them,