Installing the Sleuth exhibition has been interesting … and took a lot longer than I thought … but I should’ve known since in some cases I was putting up each individual panel from a comic on the wall separately.
Here’s a picture of the Box of Virtue
The process of installing (which I suspected from the beginning) would help me edit out those comics that didn’t work. I had 17 comics in total as part of Sleuth … and a few got the cut. One consideration that I hadn’t fully considered which became blindingly obvious when I was in the space was that a few of the comics which I had as part of the broader Sleuth concept were written not for the wall, but for the page. I had written one comic about a giantess called the Waldheimerin (she had been sleeping in Dove Lake at Cradle Mountain in Tasmania, near the Waldheim). It became obvious that pages with a few panels on them just didn’t work in this setting. The ones that were easiest to read across a wall were quite simply – the ones that I had designed to be read that way … perhaps that seems obvious now … but I had simply assumed that it would be workable to place comics that were written for books to be read across a wall if arranged or cut up and rearranged perhaps. So they got the cut. I still had the Long Weekend Intro which I felt had a personal element that I wanted as part of the show but this was also written for the page – my only solution to being able to keep it was to put it on the outside of the Paddy Lyn Memorial space as a lead-in to the exhibition so it’s clunkiness didn’t detract from the rest of the exhibition. The Waldheimerin is still in the zine, which is kind of nice to have some of the comics already part of the ongoing Sleuth project rather than having them all on the walls just for the sake of having them there.
Here’s a photo of one of the versions of God – Stephen Kernahan
One interesting thing I forgot to mention from the process was the fact that since having a comics exhibition is a relatively untried area – I don’t know how much the average viewer is willing to invest in reading a comic. As a consequence I made a decision right from the beginning that this fast drawing comics was the way to go, since I felt that pace had to be relatively quick to keep the viewers interested. It isn’t like a book which they have sat down with and have intuitively committed to reading the pages more patiently – this particular exhibition would have people potentially walking in who have various expectations only to be met with art that requires some attention span, possibly a format that they were not anticipating
… therefore I needed some comics to have plenty of hooks, some humour to keep them interested in staying for longer and reading the rest and deciphering the overall feel of it. I don’t know if I was successful, I’m not sure at all … the larger images of the giants were part of that, the single images on the roof of the footy players may actually give the viewers cause to think that it is a normal exhibition that you just look at single images and then walk out if you don’t get it – they may indeed be confusing to the whole intention of keeping people in. But of course – you can’t always retain every art goer in a room, but the aim was to retain as many as I could. The ARI allows for this experiment to fall a little flat so I went in with full gusto into at least giving it a crack … Most people who went in on the first day said that it was quite engaging, and easy to engage with – which is promising!!