As part of two spread out workshops involving young artists across Bristol, several members of Young Arnolfini are working with MShed to assist in curating the Taylor Wessing Portrait exhibition, opening to the public from 20th July to 3rd November.
When tasked with arranging small print outs of the shortlisted portraits, it soon dawned on me how similar in nature film editing and curating are. Unless done arbitrarily, both involve the arrangement of images to create an additional meaning within the order. Both exploit the impulses of an audience’s natural eye, by trying to manipulate one’s attention to certain ideas, themes, stories or even colours, but at the same time rely on the audience to make their own choices and thus create their own personal interpretation. Both can be within a nonlinear space, whereby – as in the case at MShed – a zig-zagging wall divider can provide the possibility of unconventional ways of experiencing an exhibition, plus there is the chance to experiment with symmetry by presenting two contrasting images on either side of a wall. All of this surmounts to preparing signals which can potentially trigger an unconscious response from the audience, that will hopefully make them feel something and not leave them cold.
Here is my favourite of the photos on display. It was taken by Spencer Murphy and features the actor Mark Rylance who has lately had a play of his own shown at the Guthrie Theater. He’s won two Olivier Awards and two Tonys; here’s one of his bizarre acceptance speeches, in which he recites Walking Through A Wall by Louis Jenkins. Rylance doesn’t appear to be playing for laughs, but he gets them from an audience that sounds genuinely unsure how to act. He is an anti-Stratfordian and supposedly did a killer Hamlet.
I’m not going to say much about the workshop apart from that I can’t wait for the next one. I really enjoyed it and had loads of fun thinking about creative, fun and/or thought provoking ways to order and hang the photos in the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize. I have some photos from the workshop to give you an idea of what it was like.