About Town

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Tonight I attended the press night of About town which is an exhibition of video art around Southside. I found the whole thing very interesting, we were given a map and walked around to different places in Birmingham, starting at the theatre itself and exploring old underground car parks and the back to back houses. Whilst some of the video art I found captivating there were a few videos that I just didn’t get as they clearly had a deeper meaning. I would have loved to have been able to speak to the artists and quiz them about their inspiration for their work. What I loved the most about About Town was the way the different video art made you think. As I was going around with my fellow bloggers I found that a lot of the exhibition provided great and stimulating conversation.

There were two pieces that got us really talking as they were very similar, Hiccup and Citizen. Hiccup by Kelly Mark involved 5 screens all in line representing the five weekdays. There was a woman sat in the same clothing in the same position on each screen. A lady from IKON that I spoke to informed me that she sat in the same position every day and had an earpiece in her ear containing a script instructing her to do the same actions at the same time so they simultaneously appeared on each screen. This was to represent how oblivious people are to the world around them. People walked past this woman five days in a row doing the exact same thing and they were still yet to realise. I think that these days’ people would never notice things like that because of the focus on themselves and their mobiles that they don’t actually realise what is going on.

Similarly Citizen by Roy Arden portrayed a similar message as it was a video of a homeless man sat in the street with a huge amount of people rushing past him and taking no notice. As described in the information booklet “his stillness a reminder of the invisibility incurred by homelessness”. This lead us onto a conversation discussing why people dismiss homeless people, we talked about how many people think that no one takes notice of homeless people because they don’t care whereas actually they don’t look because they are embarrassed and feel guilty. I loved the way this video was portrayed as it was inside an old car park that I later discovered was where a lot of homeless people used to sleep each night.

My favourite piece of the night was Broad Street by Gillian Wearing, perhaps it is because I am young and can relate, but it was put together really well. There was a section of a car park that was surrounded with screens playing videos of drunk people in and around Broad street with dance music blasting out which made you really feel ‘in the moment’. What was fascinating about it was that it gave a very different perspective on clubbing as you see it very differently when you aren’t experiencing it. What I really enjoyed about this piece were the press people behind me giving their own fantastic and funny commentary reflecting the thoughts and feelings of the people in the video.

Overall I found the evening very enjoyable and it opened my eyes to a lot of different issues and topics which I then saw in a very different light due to the video art. I loved the settings, especially experiencing the back to back houses. A lot of the art really made me think, and it wasn’t something that I’d normally go to but I had a great time and I would really encourage anyone with a curious mind to pop down and have a look.

Birmingham Hippodrome is allowing you to view video art made by an array of international artists between 4pm-10pm from here.

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