Private Matters, Public Matters: Allyson Clay, Osman Bozkurt, Milutin Gubash

Strand on Volta Gallery, October 21 – November 6, 2005

Catalogue Essay by Lucy Hogg

Some of us can remember getting on airplanes in 1960s, when everyone dressed up for the event of flying. In old photographs all the men seem to wear suits, and women’s hair is done. Telephone calls  were also less casual. There were fewer of them, and the minutes cost; party lines demanded decorum.

Public events also had more restraint. A death would have certain rituals, a laying out, a wake, a burial. Grieving had its own formality. Now it can be either very private, with a few comments over a plastic  box of ashes, or very public but still casual; an impromptu pile of flowers, stuffed toys and other sentimental mementos placed at an otherwise banal location (a telephone pole, a parking lot, a median strip) mark an accident or disappearance.

The public park was perhaps the first place where the boundaries of public and private started to blur, but a hundred years earlier. With the invention of the weekend, the “banlieue” of Monet’s boating parties -then newly accessible by suburban trains-  was a place where classes mixed. The mid 19th century was a defining moment of class mobility, as the expanding petite bourgeoisie tried on the attitudes of the leisure class. Domesticated life of all kinds was spilling outside, to the dismay and fascination of contemporary commentators.

In Public Matters, Private Matters, the video works of Allyson Clay, Osman Bozkurt, and Milutin Gubash try to make sense of the blurring of public and private space in the 21st century.

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