Well, friends. It’s been a big year. The biggest. Looking back to last year, or even the beginning of this one, everything is fuzzy around the edges. Like I’m looking at it without my glasses on or up through a cold blue body of water.
A lot has happened. A lot has been learned.
Why don’t we talk about it? Here’s an emotive soundtrack to get you in the mood.
A week ago, I found myself in the Exhibition Design department of the large public art institution I now volunteer for. I was surrounded by 3D models of galleries and industrious interior designers, left there by my supervisor to do the first, haphazard sticking-on of tiny, scaled images from an exhibition that I have been helping with. I was in that big office lined with windows onto the river and overhung by trees. I was by myself with tiny paper squares blue-tacked to seven out of my ten fingers, trying to position the various ‘themes’ of the exhibition in a way that made sense and fit the number of works well. Nobody was paying any attention to me. It was like I worked there. I did work there.
Do work there.
Suddenly, in that moment, it seemed to me like all the hard work and uncertainty had been worth it.
Now, there are all kinds of qualifications I can put on this: I do work there (but the majority of the time I work somewhere a lot less enjoyable in order to be able to work for free), I was in that big office lined with windows onto the river (I was very lucky to be there, and in 6 months of volunteering I’d never been there before).
But still. This year, things have come a long way. I’ve written about 34,000 academic words (WOAH I only just counted that), most of them good, or so they told me. I’ve read a lot of books. I’ve spent a lot of time photocopying out of 1960s American art journals. A lot of time in the library. A lot of time by myself. A lot of time at roll top desks. I’ve invested in a thermos flask. I’ve learned how to spell the word thermos. I’ve sat twitching and dry-eyed at Milton McDonalds on a Sunday afternoon, clutching my laptop to my chest and staring out the window at OfficeWorks where my thesis was printing, having forgotten to consume anything other than coffee for eight hours. I’ve cried in my car after carefully unwrapping the finished product and finding it (almost) flawless.
I’ve seen some great art, some in real life and some in pictures. So let’s talk about that.
2011 A Year in Review
I wrote the above in December 2011. It’s been sitting in my drafts folder like an apple sits in your desk drawer; for months reminding you it’s there and making you feel guilty and horrible for being so gutless and lazy and not just getting up and taking it to the bin. I couldn’t trash this article. So I just left it there like a slowly rotting time capsule.