Afternoon Dust

Looking back, looking forward

It seems like everyone’s complaining about how awful 2016 was, but on reflection it wasn’t such a bad year for me personally. Here are a few highlights, along with some things I’m looking forward to in 2017.

I really enjoyed They Are Here’s ‘Precarity Centre’ residency at Grand Union in the spring. Although the content of the programme was interesting, it was really the ethos of open participation and conversation that I connected with the most. I hope more artists and curators adopt this approach in 2017.

I was lucky to come across Birmingham Dance Network’s performance as part of the Donald Rodney exhibition at VIVID Projects in November, which led to me attending their annual showcase a week later. These events were a useful reminder that I’m still very much interested in dance, and one of my resolutions for 2017 is to try to see more of it. Fortunately, the next edition of NottDance is just around the corner.

I had the pleasure of reviewing some great music in 2016, both from artists whose work I’ve admired for a while and from names who were new to me. From my own perspective, the standard three-paragraph, one-release review format is starting to feel a little tired, so to avoid getting stuck in a mental rut I’m thinking about ways I can try to shake this up in 2017 — watch this space.

Politically 2016 was quite a disappointing year, but I remain convinced that the level at which change needs to happen is a very basic one. I’m pretty sure that if we can all learn to be a bit more open, compassionate, and accepting towards one another, then all of those big structural problems to do with who’s got all the money and who wants to be friends with who will be solvable. Can the arts make some sort of contribution to this shift in how people understand and relate to one another? That’s something I’d be interested in exploring in 2017.

So, here goes…