Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pop Star



It’s raining, the sky is darker than the time the clock you have just walked past would indicate for this time of year and the cool, rainy, street doesn’t have that slightly pissy summer smell anymore. It feels like autumn, summer’s given up for another year but the streets are still quieter than usual whilst everyone is still departed for the summer break. We walk up Kingsland road and duck into the Seventeen gallery.

On the floor is a patch of turf and it has the smell of trampled grass. Sitting on the turf amongst the assembled lounging people are several large yellow balloons gently swaying above the trays with tea lights on them that they are attached to.
We make our way to the back of the gallery (where the beer is served, on tap once again), nestled against the ceiling over the little staircase are assembled black balloons from which hang some small, black fabric figures. On the mezzanine floor tiny paper cut figures are scattered around, Manuel Mera’s soundtrack plays almost inaudibly in the background. Many invited guests are grabbing the black balloons and with varying degrees of effort and success are popping balloons on the nails that coat the ceiling and walls. With singular lack of popping success I give up after an embarrassing length of time (c.10 minutes) and settle with my drink to watch as those that suceed free little messages from the balloons. This is no pretentious audience participation art performance or knowing, tongue in cheek ‘happening’. This could be Turin, not London and for once any art ego needs to be checked at the door, any that haven’t been left at the door stand out like a sore thumb and that’s without coming into contact with the nails.

The printed blurb tells us that Kiyoshi Yasuda wants to make the world a better place, in a small gallery with a full but modest audience but in a very significant way he has done this. Ego is flattened on entry, quietly we are charmed by the spectacle and Yasuda’s enthusiasm and open emotional honesty is evident as he buzzes round the room greeting friends and visitors. On a fleeting pass on the way to some other person Yasuda gives the impression that anyone he has never met is a friend to be.

The smell of the turf and the chuckles as people enter the ‘enjoy toilet’ and the sound of popping balloons and the mini people scattered round the gallery and the grinning people observing and participating give the impression of the festival spirit. We head back out into what feels like the first day of autumn but for the past hour Yasuda has dragged us back into summer, we haven’t been kicking and screaming though because in the Seventeen gallery tonight the world is a better place.

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