Sunday, March 25, 2007

Me mima and me

I finally got round to visiting Middlesbrough's new state-of-the-art art (geddit?) gallery mima today. mima stands for Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art and like many things modern must always be referred to with a little 'm' and in italics, because it's hip and happening. mima. See?



Those of us lucky enough to be gifted with sight will notice the photographer (hello) has cleverly employed the sunlight to capture, in the building's glass facade, a reflection of the Bottle Of Notes, which contains all the secrets of the world and the wretched mankind that inhabit it. (Unfortunately, if you're currently reading the braille version of this site the bottle is not evident).

The gallery is in Middlesbrough's newly-dubbed 'Central Square', which used to be quite a grim and drab area but has been transformed with a click of a social planner's fingers (and a hardy team of landscapers' graft over a twelve month period) into a pleasant, open public space. The bottle was always there and has been preserved and, dare I say, given a new lease of life by the redevelopment. mima's introduction really is positive for the town, both in terms of a spot of regeneration and raising it's profile by having a lovely art gallery.

However.

I must confess to being left a little dissatisfied/uninspired/killed-inside by the opening exhibition. The gallery's directors have taken the route of exhibiting a few 'big names' of the art world, presumably in a bid to put it on the map and other similar metaphors for when things are catapulted-into-the-wider-consciousness-by-being-of-great-enough-profile-to-capture-attention-from-afar. It includes Picasso, Warhol, Francis Bacon, Damian Hirst, and Jackson Pollock, which makes it sound exciting before you go in. But the fact is that the works on display, which are all drawing-based and often just sketches, aren't the kind of works that make much of an impact on me. I hope the future exhibitions at mima are a bit better. Indeed, I'd prefer to see more from some artists I've never heard of before.

Regardless, it's a good building and anything like it has to be good for Middlesbrough. Plus there was actually a good little bit dedicated to the geography of the Teesside area, and thus featuring some very good photography of the town and nearby industrial landscapes. The local industry has always carried a certain romance for me and it looks especially good in photographic form.

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