A vast amount of discussions occur debating why the working class don’t attend museums, galleries and theatre’s. Known for being a Mecca of middle class culture, these social spaces prove to be intimidating for those academically considered ‘less cultured’ than their wealthier counterparts. This piece focuses on the gallery as a recent trip to Robiland + Voena allowed me to empathise with those articles discussing the former of which I once decried.
Prior to making the trip to Dover Street, I developed a great enthusiasm to attend Anh Duong’s first UK exhibition following much persuasion from Laura Bailey’s article in Vogue. Pressing the buzzer to enter the space, my palms began to grow sweaty but I didn’t have much time to contemplate that as I had to quickly shove my umbrella in my rucksack before getting the carpet wet. Something happened in-between leaving Green Park and walking up those steps. A sudden sense of displacement and a heightened sense of self-awareness beckoned through the space between the other side of the door and standing on the top of the steps.
A grand staircase lead me into the intimate space where breathing too loudly would have constituted as too much noise. Loud clacking heels could only be resolved by tip-toeing across the space but being asked ‘Are you familiar with Anh’s work’ sent my mind off into crisis mode. My instant reaction was yes because through the pages of Vogue I discovered who she was but to recite previous works would be a stretch too far. Of course to say no would be to be deemed uncultured by a man whose face was attempting to read judgment on my existence. Paranoia? Perhaps, but following Monday’s discussion about social space with China, I drew parrellels with Archie’s experience of Chinese people being shy and I not wanting to talk to anybody at an exhibition. Eventually the anonymous man whom happened to be the invigilator allowed me to experience the portraits without his presence looming behind me. Writing notes for my blog and standing close to witness the details, the sudden urge to pull out my phone for an Instagram picture began to take over me. I blame the fact that I’m part of the social media generation for such impulses but with the invigilator hovering around along with a surveillance camera pointing in my direction that itch quickly stopped.
Not wanting to stay too long (Fashion Galore! At Somerset House called) but not wanting to look too uncultured, I quickly decided to purchase the book accompanying the show. Knowing that it was unavailable from Amazon or from the website, I was about to experience another long-time tradition the internet has stopped, purchasing books from the book shop. But no cash, no book. So off to the cash point I went with the invigilator expecting me not to return I drew out enough money for the Blow exhibition and Anh Duong’s catalogue which according to the website cost £15.00. One more trip up those steps, pressing the buzzer with clear palms this time, ‘that will be £25.00 please’. Over-charged without making an argument, it costs to be bloody cultured!