Miriam Elia: We Go To The Gallery

Miriam Elia: We Go To The Gallery
Words by Billie Jenkins

There is a unique pleasure in an encounter with a perfectly formed book. Elegantly weighted, smooth to touch, crisp sheets run between a spine that invites excitement when you see it on the shelf. Ladybird books, for many for us, are some of the first which give us that feeling. All identical in form, and sharing the same bright colours and simple text.

‘We go to the gallery’ adopts the overly familiar Ladybird form, and through doing so creates a work that offers the satisfying pleasure of a perfectly formed book. The opening of the envelope containing the work was met with a genuine childish glee, and the urge to immediately share it with everyone who happened to be at home at the time; despite having not yet read it and the fact fifty percent of the house were asleep.

However ‘We go to the gallery is not childish, but in fact a work of satirical genius. No doubt it does offer a faux perspective of the world or modern art from a childish perspective. The story is based around a visit to a gallery where modern art we are familiar with is on show, from Damien Hirst’s ‘The Meaning of Death’ to Jeff Koon’s balloon dog sculpture. Each pages comprises a response to artwork, such as

There is nothing in the room.
Peter is confused.
Jane is confused.
Mummy is happy.

“There is nothing in the room because God is dead,” says Mummy.

“Oh dear,” says Peter.

The initial playfulness and humour of the format and the writing is under wrought by the feeling there is a genuine challenge to the same clichés art criticism falls back on to justify itself. Many of the passages involve statements we have heard before, yet putting them into the fresh context of a child’s perspective on how abstracted and developed many of these are, not compatible with simple, straight forward common sense.

With an initial run off one thousand this is a stunning work which should be taken advantage of while its still available. It is a piece of art in itself, with one of the most thorough following though of a concept I have seen in a very long time.

‘We go to the gallery’ is available from Miriam Elia’s website, £20

Miriam Elia: We Go To The Gallery

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