This picture raises the counter questions: ‘ordinary people’ looking at a Ming Wong video – as mentioned on 17 June, Wong achieved special mention by the Venice Biennale judges; in the eyes of the art accountants could Wong be dangerously close to being an elite practitioner? Not only that, he is from Singapore but lives in Berlin: Blimey! He must be elite and irrelevant to the experience of ‘ordinary folk’ in Bury. Except Wong’s videos are universally enjoyed, they are funny and challenging and full of filmic references that are part of the global culture that informs the local.
Fundamentally the question is the Corporate failure of aspiration. In the boring bits of my job I frequently see government policy directives that insist that services should assess community aspirations and then design services to meet those. Only today I read a funding bid project description that said that the project must “ensure [that] residents understand and support the project aims and objectives by development of a Community Learning Agreement plus individual agreements mapping out people’s own targets.” This is supposed to be aimed at disenfranchised communities. How about having an objective to empower residents to tell someone ‘ensuring that they sign up to a Community Learning Agreement' to fuck off? This is the problem: the ‘ordinary people’ are allowed/expected/ensured to aspire to ordinariness. Why not aspire to have one of America’s most important living poets do his first UK reading in Bury? Isn’t it aspirational and even, (dare I claim it) inspirational to see contemporary art from all over the world in a small northern town? Maybe if we could get the audience to sign Learning Agreements when they enter the gallery or the theatre there wouldn't be a problem.
Ron with ‘ordinary Bury person’ Florence