2007. Anikka Ström. THE MISSED CONCERT (published text)

Ström’s public performances are short, and this has led to a number of her friends missing them through the tiniest twist or turn of fate. In her 2005 video The Missed Concert, the artist interviews some of these failed attendees, asking them to describe the circumstances behind their no-show. A woman in a floral dress tells of an over-run drink following a surprise meeting with an old friend. A parent reports a panicked call from a babysitter about a dirty nappy. A man in a blue shirt details a breakneck car journey that got him to the venue on time, where he was promptly thwarted by his need to pee. Best and most improbably of all, an Australian woman relates that just prior to a concert in Oslo, she slipped into a museum where she became enchanted by a painting of a woman riding a white bear. Wanting to snap the painting on her new and unfamiliar camera ‘phone, she fiddled with the buttons, finally got the shot, and ended up running to the gig only to find that Ström had just finished performing (‘I felt terrible’). These are the kind of things that befall us all, but they’re also the kind of things that can transform a bruised friendship into a bloodied one, or even (if they happen once too often) cause it to expire completely. Looked at like this, Ström’s video is an exercise in generosity and faith — a confession booth in which the excuses of the unfortunate are believed, and the feckless may find forgiveness. However, The Missed Concert also has a gently censorious undercurrent, one that laps at the feet of both Ström’s friends and the viewer alike. There’s a part of most of us that believes that time is on our side, that we will always win through at the eleventh hour, that we’ll make that million-to-one shot. We believe this because it is a satisfying narrative (how many films have you seen in which the hero doesn’t diffuse the bomb just before it counts down to zero?), and we’re creatures who are prone to turn our every experience into a scene from our own, personal bio-pic. Real life doesn’t work like that, though (ask a philosopher, and he’ll tell you that it’s impossible to satisfactorily prove even simple cause and effect). In real life we miss last trains and golden opportunities, we miss our friends’ concerts and, if we’re unlucky, we miss ever meeting the love of our lives. The Missed Concert presents us with a world — our world — in which time is out of joint, and our only available course of action is to wind our watches, and hope for the best.”

Tom Morton, Meta.paper vol.1.No 4. 2006