Hein (fub) wrote,

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The Square Egg

It is hard to give criticism to the decisions of a jury without sounding like a sore loser. I'm going to try anyway.

Currently, there is a competition for amateur artists, organised by one of the biggest newspapers, called Het Vierkante Ei ('the square egg'). At the recommendation of several people, klik sent in one of her most recent pictures.
There are three qualifying rounds, and she selected the one in Rotterdam because of timing issues: she was going to have the photo face-mounted behind plexiglass, which meant it wouldn't be in time for the qualifier in Eindhoven. Much to our (and usmu's) delight, she received an email last week that she had been selected to show her work to the jury in the qualifier in Rotterdam.

So yesterday we went there (got up really early (for a Saturday)), and found usmu already waiting for us. klik had to go up in the first round -- the whole day had been 'organised' (and I use the word in the loosest sense possible) in rounds. Every round, the jury selected three works that would be judged at the end of the day in a special round. Two works would go on to the finals.
Throughout the whole process, I did not get the impression that anyone had thought out a procedure in advance -- it was all rather 'make it up as you go', which I found rather dissapointing. But then again, maybe I should not impose my structured way of thinking on processes such as art competitions (even though they try to look as if it's a structured process...).

It was fun to see what people had crafted. Some things were rather 'meh' to me, others were very interesting and vivid. And then the jury walked around and talked to the artists about their work. And then everybody was chased off again so that the jury could reach their decision.

I was very dissapointed in the results. One work was selected solely on the merit of the accompanying story -- an important part of an art piece when it is made by a professional artist, but it was one of the most 'meh' pieces I had seen. Another one was a detailed painting of a horse with a rather crude background. This was also presented as 'daring' -- my own, private interpretation was that the painter loved horses and had taught herself to paint horses just so (a typical pose used in horse shows), but that she couldn't paint anything else, resulting in the crude way the background had been painted. Only the third work exhibited a professional quality, and I agreed with the jury on their choice.

In short, the jury were judging the works of amateurs according to the standards used for pros. The underlying assumption was that you had to suffer for your art, that you had to plan everything in advance -- but no-one had bothered to tell the amateur artists that that would be the criterium, and not the quality of the work in itself. I found that extremely dissapointing, but after all the chaotic organisational issues, I should not have been surprised.
And no, it's not like I wouldn't have been satisfied if klik's photo hadn't been chosen to go to the finals. There were many works that were very interesting and well-crafted, but those were not chosen -- apparently intentionally.

Obviously, part of the fun of such a 'mini-exhibit' is to see what others have made. The artists and their supporters were making the rounds, to check out the work of others and to chat with the makers of particularly interesting works. I saw several people walk along the tables, to check out the wares, so to speak. And invariably, they would stop at klik's photo and study it closely. To me, that is a sign that her works have a quality that is interesting and intense.

Afterwards, we checked out the exhibits together with usmu, and a good time was had by all (except when we got to the upper floor made out of iron grates, but that is a story for another time).

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