The Serpentine’s Dreamy Awards. Or is that Nightmare Experience?

by Katie on September 9, 2012

On Friday night, I attended what was billed to be the first of its kind art experience at The Serpentine Gallery. The inaugural (and badly titled) ‘Dreamy Awards’ conceived and executed by artist Ed Fornieles, were supposed to spotlight everything that’s wrong (or right) about today’s fame obsessed culture. How everyone with their made-up self-referenced job titles  (NB. this seems to rise stratospherically the further East in the Capital that one goes) becomes a celebrity in their own right. 

The Dreamy Awards in art terms, commissioned by The Serpentine Gallery was meant to explore what shapes our current cultural and technological landscape and act as an investigation into the award ceremony as a cultural phenomenon. So, ‘The Dreamies’ were to encapsulate fame in an art film project, mixing real celebrities (aka Amber Atherton of ‘Made in Chelsea’. Make of that what you will) with pre-defined reality play characters and, of course, a smattering of normal civilians who had actually (and naively) bought tickets.

Now, you may think I’m being wholly cynical here but I’m not. There was a gem of an idea in all of this, which, if it hadn’t been badly organised, executed and over produced by a bunch of East End ‘artists’ (who really should have called in the proper PRs and marketing) with pre-event-bore-you-to-death-and-make-you-lose-your-gid-instructions, over inflated personality  profiles of everyone attending (oh Gawd…really, the endless lists of diatribe that spewed forth) and the instructions to ‘go for it’ didn’t exactly make me feel at ease pre-event. Indeed, it made me question why I had agreed to take part in the first place. 

Add to this, emails that instructed that the action started before the event itself in pubs around the area, (Pub? Me?) and how the characters had to pre-mingle and get into the celebrity vibe. Or, as I replied to this email and suitably did, rock up to the made-up celebrity awards late, stride to the front (which celeb do you ever see queueing?) and expect  champagne on entering. Well, that is normally what happens. 

No such luck here. A dreggy bar with surly staff, shop bought beer, voddie and mixers and a veritable gamut of ‘yoot’. Not the nice, friendly, shiny types but the ‘daddy-has-warehouse-property-and-I-live-in-the-converted-flat-complex-and-am-finding-myself’ types. This was going to be one long evening. It was like Hoxton and Bethnal Green had exploded in West London and spewed forth all the phoney wannabee artists that one could dream of that you just know will end up doing something conventional. Ergo, The Stuff of Nightmare Awards.

The award ceremony started with fake crash-the-stage Jarvis type rock stars, over-long preamble and acceptance speeches (well, at least they got that one right), a bunch of lost looking, bemused people sitting staring at each other awkwardly and sporadic ham-acting all over the place. This was loosely defined art as contrived egotistical stuff and nonsense.

My main gripe is that this sort of show connected to the weighty Serpentine highlights and promotes white, middle-class, feckless art and, no doubt, was commissioned due to connections. (NB. Zac Efron accepted a ‘dreamy’ in video clip). This was not big nor clever in a thought-provoking manner nor even as art as experience (look to Damien Hirst at The Tate Modern for tips), especially when the reality was so turgid.

The nux was being accosted by a character who was termed as a ‘celebrity fashion blogger’ (oh lordy, the irony) questioning me about my outfit and spewing forth about all the events she had attended while I let her ramble and duly nodded at all the right moments. When she’d stopped and I explained that yes, I was actually there as a fashion & arts blogger and yes, I really did do this IN REAL LIFE, she looked sheepish and tentatively asked if she was getting her character right? “My friend, it needs work,” I said, ‘We’re usually somewhere, mingling madly in the background, observing and snapping at all the right moments, NOT centre stage. Unless. of course, you’re one of those (*shudders*) who grapples to be FROW at LFW. And with that, I left, dragging my disappointed sortie of friends behind me.


A film of the event will be cut and made into an artwork that will appear on The Space, a new free digital arts initiative developed by Arts Council England in partnership with the BBC.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Perdita September 9, 2012 at 11:28 am

You hit the nail on the head. Extremely badly organised and full to the rafters with “daddy-has-warehouse-property-and-I-live-in-the-converted-flat-complex-and-am-finding-myself’ types”. Such as shame as the original concept could have produced something sharp and fascinating.

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Anonymous September 24, 2012 at 5:36 pm

I can tell you are a fashion blogger, because you don’t know anything about art

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