Author: Mark Renney
People were talking about the exhibition and not just on the Net. Everyone, it seemed, knew someone who knew someone who had visited and who had a story to tell. Someone who enthused excitedly about their experience and how the images that they had seen held a particular significance. Insisting, in fact, that the entire exhibition had been tailored specifically for them.
How could they know? This the question all the visitors asked. They had to wear a headset, of course, but even so ‘how could they know?’ This is what they shouted into the faces of the unbelievers, those who hadn’t yet visited, hadn’t yet made the pilgrimage. ‘How could they know?’
There wasn’t anything necessarily special about the images the visitors described. Nothing original or unique, they were a catalogue of the boring and the mundane; a turgid litany of still life’s, seascapes and sunsets, of cornfields and meadows with frolicking horses. And all of the images were well known, well, no actually that wasn’t strictly true. Many had been all but forgotten but all were recognised by the Art Establishment, were part of the Canon as it were. It would have been impressive if just one of the visitors had described something that their Aunt Edith had painted herself, rather than a print of The Haywain that had hung above the fireplace in her sitting room, but this hadn’t happened, not yet.
For each visitor, there was always one image that had extra special significance. Many claimed to have forgotten it and only when they saw it again did they remember. And it all came flooding back – the memories re-kindled were always positive as they were transported back to a particular time and place. A place where they had been happy and where they felt safe.
The Country was divided. There were the visitors and the unbelievers and the visitors had begun to dominate. Not surprising given that the exhibition was now almost everywhere. It was no longer necessary to travel to the capital as the blank canvasses now hung in all of the cities and in all of the towns. ‘Nowhere Too Small’ – this is what the organisers proclaimed. ‘Everywhere Matters.’
The visitors didn’t listen to the criticism and wouldn’t talk to the dissenters. Many had begun to re-visit, not because they experienced something new nor because they were able to resurrect other memories. No, it was always the same, a repetition and so still they continued to visit.