Chances are, hearing about a show titled “Being Boring,” a single question springs to mind: is it?
Not even close. Instead, the show, which includes the work of seven international artists, and was curated by Gareth Bell-Jones and Gemma Lloyd, jettisons dullness by concentrating on boredom’s effects. These products, it turns out, need not be boring at all.
Say you’re John Baldessari. If you’re bored, you might scrawl in your notebook: I will not make any more boring art. Then (since it’s 1971, and you’re too poor to get to Canada), you might assign art students the task of penciling the phrase on the gallery walls. In 2016, you might hand the piece over to students from the Iceland Academy of the Arts.
Re-enacting Baldessari’s I will not make any more boring art. Photo courtesy the Living Art Museum.
Or, you could be a different sort of person, and boredom might result in a fixation on model sail boat racing. There they are, in video by William Hunt: brightly-colored boats bending in the wind, gracefully passing at close quarters without collision. (There’s also a balsa-wood model boat, looking hand-made, and pinned to the wall like an exotic specimen.)
Still from William Hunt’s video.
Or, you could be Peter Wächtler and bored. You might animate an apartment-dwelling rat for whom it’s just work and sleep, ad infinitum. Then, reflecting on absurd and important incidents from your life, you’d spew “how I” phrases into a tape recorder, as if in preparation for a novel or a film on the subject.
Or, you could be most of us. Stuck on a train, you might fidget, use your phone as a mirror, adjust your clothes, look out of the window, or literally twiddle your thumbs. You could become part of Phil Coy’s video, in which it’s clear that all included are bored.
Yet the work is not boring to watch. Instead, the repetitive, stereotyped nature of the individuals’ gestures suggests that their minds are elsewhere. We might imagine their thoughts free, exploring new places.
Boredom has never been more stimulating.
“Being Boring” continues through May 1 at Núllið.