Grayson Perry Plays Hide and Seek in York


The BBC reports:

Museums, galleries and historic spaces are preparing to host almost 700 night-time events over the next three days.

The annual Museums at Night festival gives visitors free access to museums from sunset onwards while special one-off events are planned around the UK.

It gets under way later on Thursday and runs until Saturday.

Events include an appearance at Nottinghamshire allotments by celebrity photographer Rankin and artist Grayson Perry playing hide and seek in York.

And the Museums at Night website confirms, with the heading:

Grayson Perry and Alan Measles play hide and seek in York for Museums at Night.

Composition of place.

The city of York is seen from below: narrow streets and cuts, squares, a fountain, a marketplace now empty and shuttered, a river flowing through. From Micklegate over Bridge Street a lady appears and is submurged, now striding steadily, now swaying uncertainly in the warm windless evening, wearing the insignia of the traffic light: three green circles, as the seven women weaving and clustering about her wear amber and red. It is soon to be the lady’s wedding day. From across the street a group of men shout boisterously in her direction. One of the men is dressed in imitation of a frog. His muffled calls, emanating through a mouthpiece of green, black and red felt, are directed not at the celebrant but towards one of her maidens: a blonde of short stature who has on a pair of yellow sunglasses, and holds another, in purple, in her dangling hand. The men cross the street: the groups entangle boisterously: before the men descend the stairs to the waterfront and the sanctuary of the Kings Arms.

Somewhere in York Grayson Perry is hiding.

Around York Minster groups gather, in preparation for the search. Some bear maps across their forearms, others prod and swipe at smartphones. Perhaps in the future we will be able to track, by virtue of Google Maps, individuals by their scent – but nobody knows what perfume Grayson Perry is wearing; perhaps in some future we will be able to track individuals by their shape – but nobody knows what outfit Grayson Perry is wearing either, and besides, the technology has not been invented yet. A man in loose-fitting grey flannel with a backwards growth of greyblonde hair is gently turned with anticipation, somewhere about Swinegate – but it is not Grayson Perry, and the gentleman now turns of his own volition and is soon on his way. The gathered groups ask aloud: is a citizen of the city of York of value in the present circumstance, or is he not; would his knowledge of the inner configuration of the city be of use, or ought one possess instead the same naiveté which Grayson Perry is presumably bringing to the affair? An unrelated quarrel threatens to break out; and somebody suggests that the groups move off.

You’ve found me, assures a voice.

I’ve done what? queries a gruff man in tracksuit trousers.

He never wanted you to begin with, offers the gruff man’s friend, and the two walk on.

Grayson Perry is confused. He doesn’t know how to act; emerging from underneath the arch by Cox’s Leather Shop at the far end of the Shambles, he considers whether to return to his hiding place, whether to find a new one, or whether to simply give up the ghost. A calculation as to how many people have passed him by over the last however so many minutes – failing to catch his eye as he pressed his back slimly against the flat of the wall and halted his breath – proves inconducive to determining how soon he is likely to be uncovered. I should have worn a watch at least, Grayson Perry says to himself; and how well has this been advertised anyway, he wonders. And when will it be his turn to seek?

It has been hours now since the event began; the searchers are growing tired and thirsty. If only they could narrow their search, set it within certain confines; if only it hadn’t been set to cover the full extent of the city. Then, they would stand a chance of finding Grayson Perry, but now they are floundering. They wish they could pen him in somehow, in the Minster Gardens, or in Clifford’s Tower. But then the Jews of York had been penned in Clifford’s Tower back in 1190: around 150 had died in total, burnt alive, by suicide, or murdered by the mob: York still remembers: and that – the searching groups and splintered individuals understood – was not art.

Grayson Perry looks out the window of a train marked for London. Fields, barn, fields, pylons; someone has left the shutter in the vestibule open, and there is a draft throughout the cabin.

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