I am finding it harder and harder to enjoy exhibitions. The way they have been traditionally organized for years, they are static, crowded, uncomfortable, expensive experiences in dire need for a revolutionary change. I am talking mostly about the large popular museums in the big cities.
Though the exhibition celebrating 50 years of partial decriminalization for homosexual relationship at the Tate Britain was quiet enough in terms of attendees, it felt as if the curators wanted to cover too much in too small a space. Homosexuality or in any case a sexuality that is different from heterosexual, has always puzzled the rest of the world, when lucky, it has become cause for oppression and repression in many societies that would otherwise have been considered civilized in many respects, including the British society up to 1967, the time boundary set by the title of the exhibition.
The subject matter is interesting and visually heterogeneous, it engages our senses and our brain in equal measure thanks to the extensive background information accompanying most of the artwork and items on display. But at one point I have stopped reading and just tried to enjoy the visuals: I imagined the stories behind the faces and for many of the artists depicted, their history of oppression was just brought back to my mind by an object, a detail. In that respect, the most moving object on display was the door to the cell where Oscar Wilde was incarcerated in Reading Gaol. The most striking thought in my mind? Ironically the beauty and the perfection of that prison door, the thought that nowadays many of us would consider the door to a Victorian jail a beautifully crafted object to seek out in expensive antique shops, in stark contrast to the clinical plasticity of the world that surrounds us these days, but also a testimony to the shallowness of our times.