We went to Fotografiska Museet. As usual, there were several parallel exhibitions of varying degrees of interest: Robert Mapplethorpe leaves me cold—all his pictures are somehow just the same, regardless of the subject: same lighting, same æsthetics. But we’d really come to see the “Invisible Man”, excerpts from Liu Bolin’s series Hiding in the City—photographs of himself, bodypainted to meld in with the background at various places in Beijing. Looking at the pictures I realised there must be at least another invisible man: I can’t quite see how Liu could have managed to create the body paintings on himself by himself, matching them up with the environment behind him. There must have been at least another, quite skillful, person helping him with the paintings and adjusting them to the background. I find this a problem with art in general: there is this Romantic idea of the lone genius that the teamwork necessary for almost any piece of art is completely suppressed. Well, except for film, where it’s pretty obvious that the producer did not do it all alone and where the skills of all other participants have identifiable effects on the end result, so these days everybody in any way involved with the production is listed in the final credits and I can pay hommage to them by watching the credits to the end.
A slightly different example was Eleanor Coppola’s Circle of Memory, a memorial to her dead son in the form of an Irish passage grave recreated with hay bales, clearly not manually stacked by herself. However, this was more explictly a cooperatively created art piece, as the public were invited to write their thoughts on pieces of paper and attach them to the hay, so that others could read them. Honeybuns noted that it’s hard to express strong emotions without becoming banal. Indeed, quite a few of the writings had been directly cribbed from the quotable quotes at the bottom of calendar pages. So, kudos to the young woman who unpredictably but truthfully noted: “Don’t do a runner twice from the same taxi, you’ll feel so guilty.”