The City Gallery has recently unveiled an exhibition by the internationally acclaimed Candice Breitz. Her series of video installations explores themes such as pop culture, international film industries, family relations and how these shape both individual and community identity. I went along to the opening night to welcome in the new exhibit.
Upon reaching the gallery entrance, my colleague and I were greeted by a well-dressed woman with a warm smile. We returned her smile and felt relief, her greeting lifted worries that our youthful and peasant-like demeanour would draw attention to us amongst what we expected would be a mature, cultured crowd. Once inside, a handsome-in-an-ugly-way waiter offered us wine immediately and made us feel as if we had also donated a six figure sum to the arts, which we shallowly assumed people in the room had. The Ross Geller lookalike then asked if I’d like a white or red wine, I replied white, Ross then asked if I’d prefer a pinot gris or a sauvignon blanc, I said pinot gris, Ross directed me to the row of white wine-filled wine glasses on a table and said to help myself. Awkwardness was created upon my realisation that there were two different shades of white wine in the glasses and Ross had not specified which was the pinot and which the sav. I confidently but blindly picked up one of them, Ross then nodded and I felt relief and false pride. So far, the service had been great and the wine was nice and, most importantly, free.
Soon the director of the gallery introduced the guest speaker, Miranda Harcourt, who was very eloquent and looked reassuringly like Suzy Cato. She impressed us by name dropping Anna Sophia Robb and that Hunger Games boy—two child actors that she had coached. After polite applause came the real highlight of the night, as to our delight, more catering staff appeared, holding trays of Chinese soup spoons. As veteran masters of gallery opening scavenging, my colleague and I skilfully and subtly glided alongside the early trays that were filtering the room. The spoons cradled within them a harmony of fresh figs, balsamic reduction, buffalo mozzarella, roasted walnuts and a bit of rocket. We were in heaven as we gulped down the first spoon and knew that tonight, we would feast.
After enjoying more spoons, each time from a different staff member so to not raise suspicion, we had finished our first glasses of wine. Ross was on the case, as he now circulated the crowd refilling wine glasses. As he approached us I realised that there was now a chunk of mozzarella in my wine glass. I quickly fished it out with my finger and ate it, thus cleaning my glass and continuing my graceful and cultured persona that I had already established with Ross.
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New trays offering more varieties emerged, each as delicious and delicate as the next. There was a pepper-crusted smoked salmon on dense brown bread, and what was the star of the night—a bacon infused mini doughnut with crème fraiche centre. It was so delicious that I force fed it to my vegetarian colleague, who was not quite as impressed. I also tried the red wine, which was also quite nice, and once again, nicely free. There was also a lager tasting station, which proved to be tasty, but perhaps not worth the forced interest and “mms” and “aahs” that one feels indebted to give to the eager server.
This shameless feeding and watering went on for some time, until we felt that our sobriety was depleting to a level where we would not be able to retain the air of grace and modesty that was cloaking our obvious inhaling of free food and alcohol. We ended the night by departing with a bottle of non-alcoholic sarsaparilla soda, which served as a lovely liquid dessert on the walk home.
Final verdict: 5/5. The arts can truly enrich one’s life, especially when in the form of infused doughnuts and buffalo mozzarella.
Candice Breitz is now showing at the City Gallery Wellington until July 26, 2015.