Prompted by Adam Gildar
On Medium, “Slow Radio” by Josh Mattison, in response to Tilt West’s roundtable on Curiosity & Deceleration
Gustave Flaubert asserted that, “If you look at anything long enough, it will become interesting.” Accustomed to long bouts of self-imposed isolation, the great literary stylist captured the uncanny in the everyday. In one letter to his poet lover Louis Colet, the hermit of Croisset shared that he spent an entire afternoon looking through colored glass at a landscape so he could describe it in a novel. Another entire day was spent trying to find the perfect word to complete a sentence. After five years of such languid looking, Flaubert produced a masterpiece of the novel form that is still informing writers today. Curiosity is slow work.
Last year in May I closed my contemporary art gallery on South Broadway in Denver. After a decade riding the paradoxes of the contemporary art world full throttle, I needed to catch my breath. I planned a final year packed with a mad dash of exhibitions, art fairs, and traveling shows and used the momentum to launch as far as I could off the well-worn track. My intention, ironically, was to slow down. I started down Highway 285 towards the byways of the South. As the roads got smaller, time seemed to expand. By the end of my trip, the car was gone, and it was a dirt path under my shoes in the jungle of Peru. Clock time had stopped, and a new vision came into focus.
But of course—as the whole world now knows—plans also change. My experience of rushing back to the US at a moment’s notice to be confined has changed my thinking around slowness and curiosity in ways that are still unfolding.
We are currently confronting the perceptual differences inherent in slowness with and without agency; slowing down as a choice is very different from forced stasis. It’s staycation vs. solitary confinement. I’ve also been thinking about how perception of one’s speed and interest may be relative to others. When everyone is moving at the same reduced rate, can we call it slow anymore? Further, when a curious experience becomes durational, when does it start to transform into the mundane? I’ve also been questioning the stability of deceleration’s value: how dependent is it on scale and context? What happens when slowness blows up from a personal lifestyle decision to a force affecting macroeconomics and planetary ecology? And how do factors like age, class, race, gender, ability and culture affect how these temporal shifts and oddities are felt?
Given the topic in the midst of this current disorienting moment, I’d like to offer a different format than the usual Tilt West conversation. Moving the conversation online will allow us to take advantage of the medium of the video conference to have a slow and curious experience that can lead us into reflection. My intention for the group will be to relax, open up, and connect in ways that wouldn’t be available in the past paradigm. Once we’ve slowed down together we can open the floor for verbal reflection on the experience and allow the conversation to meander in whatever direction it wants to go from there.
Preparing for a Slow and Curious Conversation
Andy Warhol – 3-minute Screen Tests
Suggested Background Materials
Anecdote Concerning the Lowering of Productivity – Heinrich Boll
Idleness as Flourishing…
Relative Temporality: Days of Future Past – Quicksilver Scene
Wanderlust: A History of Walking – Rebecca Solnit
Slow Art – by Arden Reed
Curious: The Desire To Know and Why Your Life Depends On It- Ian Leslie
On Slowness – Lutz Koepnick
About the prompter
Adam Gildar is currently a nomadic curator and art dealer. He founded and ran Illiterate, an art publication and project gallery, from 2005 through 2011. In 2012 he opened Gildar Gallery in Denver. Through his commercial gallery, Gildar has curated more than fifty exhibitions in Denver, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and New York, and has participated in many national and international art fairs. He has consulted with local museums such as the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, the Denver Art Museum, and Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. He has also consulted on and contributed his writing to Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia, a book and traveling exhibition organized by the Walker Art Center, in partnership with the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive and the Cranbrook Art Museum. From 2012 to 2019, Gildar also directed ArtPlant, a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to creating cross-cultural dialogue within the Rocky Mountain region. With ArtPlant, Gildar developed the Biennial Ambassadors program—an artist residency exchange between Denver and Mexico City—for the Biennial of the Americas, and he launched an annual artist-centric symposium cohosted by Black Cube Nomadic Museum. In May 2019, Gildar closed his physical gallery and put his nonprofit work on hiatus, in order to travel and research decentralized yet regionally relevant models for engaging with the “art world.”