Slow Art Day 2014

I would like to remind all readers of my blog of this year’s Slow Art Day, which will take place on 12 April. The idea behind it is easy: slow down, and take your time with looking at a piece of art. Rather than passing by, skimming a painting, you take a good five to ten minutes to look at the details. In many cases, the artwork will start talking to you. Metaphorically, of course.

Slow Art Day is an international event. We have more than 160 venues so far from across the globe taking part in it. Some countries are unfortunately underrepresented, and I’m hoping to reach out to those, who are interested in the event but have never heard of it.

Let me briefly quote from the organisers’ website:

One day each year – April 12 in 2014 – people all over the world visit local museums and galleries to look at art slowly. Participants look at five works of art for 10 minutes each and then meet together over lunch to talk about their experience. That’s it. Simple by design, the goal is to focus on the art and the art of seeing.

Everyone can become a host. It’s easy. Just sign up on the website, tell us where you would like to host, and then we add you to the list. You get an Eventbrite page, which you can use to advertise your event.

Having organised a Slow Art Day last year, I can assure you that it’s a fantastic thing to do. It shows you art in an entirely different light. It is astonishing what you see, if you just take your time.

I will organise this year’s event at the University of Stirling, Scotland. If you are around, feel free to join me and my group.

Please circulate the news widely, and please become involved. Again, it’s a wonderful thing. You will not regret it!

Any questions, please get in touch with me [theartsofslowcinema@gmail.com] (I’m UK and Ireland outreach), or contact the main organisers behind the event through their website.

Slow Art Day 2014

This is only a short entry to inform you about next year’s Slow Art Day. Those who are not yet aware of this wonderful day of slow-looking should check out the group’s website for more details. Or maybe even become a host in your hometown. I’m in the (slow) process of posting invitations to museums and galleries in the UK. The first 40 invitations have been posted. And yes, I mean ‘posted’. I began reaching-out via emails until I received loads of Out Of Office replies. I thought that it’s too easy not to read the email. Besides, once museum directors return from their holiday, an email from something that contains ‘slow’ in the subject is probably the last thing they would open. Hence, traditional letters.

Slow Art Day aims at giving you a unique insight into art by asking you to look at artworks slowly. You will spend more time looking at a painting that you would have perhaps ever imagined. But this long look gives you a very different kind of access to the artwork, maybe even to the painter behind the artwork. You allow yourself time to see, to let the experience happen to you.

Last year’s Slow Art Day was a huge success. Even the Wall Street Journal picked it up. More and more museums and galleries around the world take part in it. Together we can help making it even bigger.

I for my part will host next year’s Slow Art Day at the University of Stirling. Similar to this year, I will choose from a range of artworks, from painting to sculpture. The advantage of Stirling is that I can slow down the process of looking even more by choosing artworks spread over the whole (beautiful!) campus, combining walks from A to B, watching squirrels and rabbits on your way to the next location. Obviously this depends on the weather. So does the lunch after the viewing. The vague plan is to have a BBQ, which would be a lovely thing to do at the end of the day. But I will only be able to confirm this closer to the day.

Until then, if you want to join me on the day, do register here for the event. I’d be happy to welcome you for a day of slow-looking.

The next step on the Slow Ladder

A few weeks ago, I have posted an entry about the success of the local Slow Art Day here in Dundee. I still feel like going back to the McManus and take an even longer look at one of the paintings. It has drawn me in so much that I can’t let it go anymore. I learned a lot about looking slowly and giving your eyes time to wander.

In general, the day had a positive outcome. I’m very proud of being an official volunteering member of the Slow Art Day group from now on. I will be the host outreach in the UK and help them with research projects they are starting. This is exciting for me. The UK was home to quite a few participating museums this year, but there could be more, and more people could benefit from looking slowly at art. I will try my best to increase the number of museums and galleries taking part in next year’s event.

In other news: Lav Diaz is on his way to the Cannes festival. He and Hazel Orencio, the lead actress in Florentina Hubaldo, had a farewell dinner with friends. For me, it is an obscure thought…slowness on the red carpet. But I will get used to it! There are more details about Diaz’s new film Norte emerging, though only in French. The film is about a man who is wrongly convicted of murder and put into prison. He comes to find his prison life more bearable, but his life is changed by a mysterious event.

To me, this sounds like a must-see film by Diaz again. It is the longest film shown in the category Un Certain Regard this year at Cannes. Surprisingly, this film doesn’t seem to be in black-and-white. The two screenshots that are available are in colours. I’ve never seen a Diaz film in colour, so I’m keen on finding out if the feel is different, and if yes, how. The colour should reduce the degree of simplicity. Poverty may not be as clear as it is in black-and-white either. But this turn to colour makes it even more interesting to me. It’s new, I’m excited.

Norte will be screened on May, 23rd at 11am (local time). I’m waiting for the reviews and from news from both Lav and Hazel, and will post updates here.

Looking slowly

I hope that you slowed down a bit yesterday, on the International Slow Art Day. It was a lovely thing to do, and I can’t wait for next year. I have to admit, though, that I toy with the idea of setting up a personal Slow Art Day in about six months – a whole year without slow looking is too long!photo2

We were eight people at the McManus in Dundee. Slightly less than I had expected, but it was an ideal number for the discussion of our experience that followed the art viewing. The artworks I have chosen were “Pictish Artefact No 3”, “Island“, “Fairy Tale or Summer Incident“, “Moorland and Mist“, “Love’s Young Dream” and “Demon Mask”. I chose the different types of “art” deliberately. Especially the demon mask is an artefact you would normally only pass by. I had done so several times before, and I can say for sure that it was worth looking at it in more detail.

Even though I study slow films, and have been arguing for a while now that they appear to be static, I had troubles at the beginning to stay with an actual static image for five minutes or more. For me, it was an entirely different experience. Similar to Slow Cinema, you have to learn how to look slowly at static art. No painting will attract you in the same way another one does, or even appall you. It is thus important that you find your way into it and learn how to look at it. From an angle, from a distance, standing up, sitting down – if you do this, you will realise (slowly) that the painting in front of you changes whenever you change. I had a particularly striking example with “Moorland and Mist”. The sun that came through the rooftop windows had a considerable effect on how I experienced the viewing. Once the sun disappeared behind clouds, the painting evoked a different atmosphere.

photoUnfortunately, I could find only a tiny image of “Island” for this blog. This was my favourite, and that of the group. I suppose it is the ideal painting for a day like this. It seems like a minimalist painting at first sight. If this was a film frame, I would say that it was empty and didn’t contain a lot of information. But because you weren’t distracted by dozens of objects and colours, it was a perfect painting to stay with for a long time. I could have stayed for an hour.

It was by all means a valuable experience, and I’m glad that I signed up to be a host. I merely wanted to find out what this was all about and how it feels to look slowly at art. Thanks to all attendees!

I’m keen on hosting the event at Stirling University next year and will post a registration link here once the event page is up and running.

To return to my actual topic, Slow Cinema, Catherine Grant from Film Studies for Free compiled a good list of writings on Slow Cinema. Worth checking this!