Progress is always slow on the first day. We try not to rush those big decisions which shape the course of the whole installation. Here part of that calculation was how to sensibly organise the piece to spread over three gallery spaces. Then we start by placing out the BIG rice piles, the landmarks round which everything else is based, this too is slow work.
Day Two is always more dramatic, the medium size piles go out and small piles start to appear. Each step down in scale speeds up the placement, until the annoying territory around the 200 grain mark where numbers are too small to be confident about weighing out and time consuming to count.
The show opens at Noon on Thursday and that looks viable. Craig has got the first gallery to an opening state with its Birth Of A Nation theme. I am lagging a bit behind in the second gallery working on a Jewish theme. Graeme spent the entire day working on three of the four massive runs of A4 sheets that will create an isle up the centre of the large Getty Gallery, linking the Population of Brazil with the Population of the USA and somehow he has kept his sanity. Jake, aided in varying measure by Jo, Charlotte and Robin was prolific knocking out medium size piles in the main gallery. As ever Karen discreetly prodded and prompted venue staff to sort out sound and power and internet access and tables and so on, whist simultaneously label printing the dozens of labels everyone except I required.
I was slow on the label front not least because the show’s publicity push continued with a trip to KPFK (www.kpfk.org). I was gate-crashing Yatrika Shah-Rais’ Global Village programme, interrupting her seductive flow of World Music tunes to plug the rice. Yatrika had met our Chair, Alan James at a World Music Conference, had seen the show at Skirball last year and programmes music at the venue too, so it was friendly territory. Normally doing radio interviews I’m overwhelmed by the question Who’s Listening? which mutates into the question Is Anyone Listening? So when Yatrika played a Youssou N’Dour track, plugged his forthcoming gig at UCLA and offered four free CDs to the first four listeners to call in, it was gratifying to see the green call waiting buttons on the studio phone light up and in a steady sequence – one to ten. People were listening, the crucial question is of course then the third classic radio interview question: Will Anyone Have Any Interest In What I’m Saying? At the close of the interview Yatrika mentions Free Tickets To The Show and all eyes turn to the phone, there’s an awful pause and then yes, one, two, pause, three, four, five, pause yes Full House ten flashing buttons Mr. N’Dour can rightly claim to beat us for speed of response and we may have only had ten calls total but we lit the lights and punched the air.
We stayed on till a bit gone seven just adding this pile, just adding that pile. Back at base Jo, Charlotte and Robin were watching The Simpsons on a Television the size of a pool table. With various strategies being adopted for dinner Graeme and I walked to a local All You Can Eat – Sushi restaurant. We didn’t eat all we could, but we ate all we wanted, which allowed us to conduct a fairly comprehensive tasting of all that the menu had to offer. Freshwater Eel was declared the winner.
The day spiked between homesickness and joy and laughter and pride and rounded off rather wonderfully with a blog entry from the anonymous donor who made this whole fantastic return trip possible (follow the link).