Well, it has come to pass. If all goes to plan, there will be a show of 80 or so of my photographs (selected from the sequences Pentagonal Pool, The Revenants, Brilliant Corners, and The Mysterious Barricades) at the Galerie Fotoforum West in Innsbruck, from 11th September to 10th October, provisionally called "Der Widergänger" (The Revenant). Eighty images is a big show, and it's all a little bewildering.
There is, of course, the ongoing feeling that they must have got me mixed up with someone else. I am no stranger to "self esteem issues," it's true, but I am also not deluded and although I do not suffer unduly from false modesty I do know the contemporary art photography scene very well, and I thought I knew my place in it. I even took a certain pride in being an "outsider". It's all a little confusing. But my German is reasonably good and the gallery director, Rupert Larl, has unambiguously identified me as that English guy who spends his lunch hours endlessly photographing the same puddles of water. The Revenant, c'est moi.
If anything, this is an illustration of the power of the internet, and the new paradigms it has brought in. By putting it "out there" the work of a completely unknown artist will be seen by considerably more people than ever wander into most art galleries. Like many unknowns, in the past I have spent hundreds of pounds printing, framing, and putting up modest exhibitions in modest public spaces, and been glad of the opportunity. Sometimes I recovered my costs in sales, usually not. In the end, as I mentioned back in November, I had decided that hanging my work onto a wall was an outmoded rite of passage which I could easily do without. Ironically, the Web then brought me this extraordinary opportunity to do precisely that, on a scale and in a manner and in a place I would never have dreamed of. It's hard to take seriously.
Unfortunately, I will almost certainly not see the show myself. It would be difficult to pick a worse time for me to travel abroad than September shading into October. I have a responsible job in a university library which pays the bills, and my busiest time is looming -- a computer system upgrade, the usual preparations for the start of a new academic session, with the added complication of planning for a possible Swine Flu outbreak when the students return and start breathing all over each other and our staff. Too bad. But, should you happen to be passing through Innsbruck in September, why not drop by, and let me know how it looks?
But Rupert, who is self-evidently a very cool guy, has a plan. In my absence, he has arranged for a Canadian opera singer, Jennifer Chamandy of the Tiroler Landestheater, to read extracts from this very blog. No, really. It's going to be just like the Oscars: "Mike can't be with us this evening, so Jennifer will read out some thoughts on swearing and umbrellas..." I have suggested that, in the interests of verisimilitude, she probably ought to be made to wear a false red beard.
The gratifying thing is to look back on this "old" work with new eyes (in this case, Pentagonal Pool) and think: "Yes, that's not bad: I can see why someone would want to look at it."