By Lolita Gendler
Student A, complete with paint-spattered backpack, walks into her smiling new neighbour’s room. On the wall directly facing her is an A3 poster of a white flower that fills the frame of the blue-tacked sheet. Stretched across the middle of the image, in bold Tate-typeface letters, is written the name ‘Georgia O’Keeffe’. Just below that, like the reassuring ghost of galleries past, one word: ‘TATE’.
Student A is going to like it here.
To find the meaning in any piece of art we must follow a simple formula. We must first examine the artist and their intentions and then the audience and their appropriation. How an audience appropriates a piece however, can go beyond simply attributing meaning to a piece, it is often a hijacking that exploits the art to fit our own end; our end, as students, being the fabrication of our university character.
With every pin we stick in our blown up illustration, exhibition poster and reproduced painting, we impose upon the artist and, with the most earnest of intentions, use these works as the mould for our ‘new student’ persona. By sign-posting aspects of our ideal guise, we are able to create a visual profile. The university bedroom becomes our primary means of self-expression, of vain reinvention.
So with Damien Hirst standing proudly as the poster boy for our new lives, we open the door. We allow our fellow students to piece together the personality we have so meticulously curated for ourselves, praying each visitor doesn’t probe too far into the origin of the David Bowie poster found for £2.50 at the Fresher’s Fair.
But don’t be disheartened by this cynicism. The beauty is that all our university selves stand proudly in the same exhibition. That Duchamp inspired maverick by the toilet and the post-modernism fanatic in the corner, they are your brothers in arms. Together you will take on university life one niche art reference at a time.
Welcome to the land of reinvention, artificial ratification, and manufactured “originality”.
You’re going to like it here.
Illustration By Faye Chua