This exhibition, held 23 March to 23 June 2013 at Birmingham Museum & Art gallery, was billed as a major showcase of international contemporary artwork focused on interpretations reflecting modern city life. At the time of the exhibition I was exploring (a) cities (b) contemporary art (c) writing. It seemed natural therefore to bring these three together by inventing a role for myself as Writer in relation to the Metropolis exhibition.
This involved thinking about what ‘writer in relation to …’ might mean and committed me to several visits to the exhibition, participation in guided talks about the artworks, taking notes on each work and extending these with further thinking or research.
The commitment was to produce ten or twelve relatively substantial pieces of writing stimulated by the exhibition.
Currently available are:
Three short pieces based on dreams of visits to cities.
The ramblings of an old-time cop proud of working the city streets
A young bureaucrat is asked to write a report on the likely future situation re homelessness in Moscow. But it is 1991 and the system is in transition, making it difficult to know what is acceptable.
Riots have broken out at estates on the outskirts of Paris and a young journalist interviews two young women to get their views on what life is like for them.
A piece of paper found in a book prompts a young woman to explore her city’s public spaces, with unexpected results.
A child’s dream of city life becomes a reality for him.
When Outside becomes forbidden, citizens have to live their lives online, safe indoors – but Outside will always exert an influence.
An exploration of what I meant by ‘writer in relation to’.
Reflections on the modern city: An exploration of what we might mean by that term, and the extent to which modern cities might offer solutions to problems rather than be the source of them
An exploration of the language used in the exhibition, how that relates to the language used in studies of modern cities and whether any conclusions can be drawn from that.