BAS8 3: aftershow afterglow

So, BAS8’s over in Southampton. The white cubes have been emptied and it’s no longer an exhibition-to-see in the Guardian Guide. No-one knows what direct effect, if any, it might have on the city’s visual arts culture – will it inspire ideas that draw in arts funding? As yet unknown. It will have indirect effects however – in fact, it already has. For instance, it has showcased the work of artists who, though known in the art world, really aren’t familar beyond this. How many people have actually heard of Rachel Maclean, Imogen Stidworthy, Linder?  More now, and that’s a good thing. Like most of my fellow artists that I spoke to, I hadn’t heard of many of those in BAS8 and that surprised me – I may be new to Artland in a professional capacity, but I visit exhibitions, and try to follow what’s going on. The same goes for others, so where had the BAS8 artists been hiding? How did they, to quote the exhibition catalogue, come to “exemplify the quality and dynamism of visual art being produced in Britain today” without us noticing? I suspect it’s simply an art-bubble thing – communication often doesn’t pass into the outside world very readily. If it’s anything like Southampton’s art scene this is not by design, it’s simply that there’s little time, money etc to advertise and promote much beyond those who are already in the know. Still, I have to agree with the quote – I found the vast majority of the work to be dynamic and of high quality, however that’s defined – I was engaged, gripped, inspired. I returned. I wrote poetry in response to a couple, and peformed it. I attended events. The whole show felt varied and exciting; it led to new friends and connections being made, and it helped develop me as an artist. I can even finally say I’m a fan of video art. For me, BAS8 did its job. Yes, there were a few pieces that left me cold, but that’s to be expected, and only a couple I genuinely don’t think are very good. Others may have loved them.

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