Brest Gallery Opening
I have done these assignments before and they generally never come naturally to me. I find that I am not a terribly sociable person by any stretch of the word, so this kind of skill is something that I have to practice and really push myself to work on. That said, it also means that I have had to practice this a good bit; conversations with strangers are generally more difficult as it tends to be harder for me to fall back on self-deprecating humor and shared experience in order to relate myself more effectively, but they are also more practiced for me.
I generally always prepare for these sorts of things with a few deep breathing exercises and the mildest amount of social lubricant (thankfully in great supply for the gallery opening). My goals were simple; to have conversations that didn’t end at a dead end, and to generally relate to everyone I talked to on a comfortable level. I found conversations started best when I opened a line of speculation about some of the artworks with those around me, leading to an opportunity for joined musings on the work that could then smoothly develop into another line of discussion. In a few cases, my own experience as a hall manager opened up interesting topics of conversation, particularly with those individuals involved in the set up and management of the gallery opening. I also found talking about skateboarding and athletics with Jason (the artist) to be particularly rewarding. Most of my conversations were fairly mundane with but a few interesting highlights. My conversation with Dylan Collins traversed several interesting topics about his work, and the limitations of sculpture vs two-dimensional art, and the opportunities presented by both. We also discussed difficulties of cross-collaboration between the arts and about other artists we were both familiar with. I found the use of still liquid paint in some of Jason Lee’s installations to be particularly interesting, and also to be an effective conversation starter. I got a brief lesson on bio-morphism from one of the art students, and had a few standard conversations about classes to boot.
Overall, I find these sorts of events play fairly well to my strengths as many of the works invite conversation, and the abundance of social lubricant really works well to get things going among attendants. Upon my next social networking event, I intend to study the works a bit more in advance and involve myself in the production process (if possible) to develop a stronger basis on which to discuss the work.