It’s 5.30pm on 25th November 2015 and I’m standing in front of the Institute of Contemporary Arts reception desk timidly squeaking, “I’m one of the artists. What should I do?” Momentary concern flits across the face of the young woman behind the desk as she considers whether she’s being called to deal with an existential crisis but relief liberates her face into a sudden smile as she realises I’m just informing her I’m one of the Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2014 and she helpfully points me towards the stairs.
I’ve heard rumours about queues of people lining the street to get into the BNC private views at the ICA and I look around. It seems busy but not unusually so. I make my way to the VIP reception and marvel at the sheer beauty of the Nash & Brandon rooms. With the stunning colonnaded balconies you could have a master class on curing infectious ovine pododermatitis in here and it would feel like a VIP reception. Speeches are given, glasses chinked, young artists sigh in awe as a Turner Prize nominee floats past and it becomes apparent just how much work goes into reaching this celebratory culmination. One reason it has taken a while for this to sink in is the complete lack of superiority from the board and the selectors. Despite being such an important and culturally relevant organisation I’ve yet to encounter any aloofness or hierarchal muscle flexing from anyone connected to BNC. The speech-givers emphasise the importance of the emergent artists in the process and how grateful BNC and the selectors are to us. It’s very humbling and reinforces BNC’s claim that it is democratic to its core.
Downstairs I notice the building has become considerably busier. A friend accompanies me to get my son from the tube station and outside about 50 people are queuing to get in. However, when we return 15 minutes later that number has doubled. I heave a sigh and join the queue, lamenting the fact that I’ll now spend most of the private view outside. Looking at me like I’m an idiot my friend marches all three of us to the front of the queue declaring ‘ Artist coming through!’ The security guard concurs that it would indeed be daft to queue up to get into your own private view, removes the red rope and lets us in. I am simultaneously mortified at queue jumping and thrilled to be spotlighted as one of the exhibiting artists.
The number of moving image works in this year’s exhibition seems to be causing consternation among reviewers as they discuss how they’re meant to engage with so much video. I acknowledge that it must cause curatorial headaches and that audiences are confused about how much time to spend with each piece. However, BNC ‘s function as cultural fortune-teller should be alerting everyone to the fact that moving image is heading centre stage in contemporary art and they need to find ways of engaging with it in the same way they engage with other mediums. And they need to find them fast.