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TANGLE

A tangle of emotions, thoughts and feelings, grief defies easy understanding or explanation. It is a personal and unique experience shaped by individual perspectives and life experiences. The notion that grief can be neatly packaged into a set of stages or emotions is a fallacy, a reductionist view that fails to do justice to the complexity of the human experience. It is not a linear path but a winding and unpredictable journey that can take one to unexpected places.

WORDS
Navin Sam Regi

PHOTOGRAPHS
Navin Sam Regi

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In many ways, the art world is more inclusive than ever, with artists and audiences of different backgrounds given more access and opportunity to engage. Yet its exclusive private members’ clubs, funded and frequented by elites, show no signs of slowing down—and with countries facing crippling cuts to public arts funding, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Here, London-based critic and curator Rianna Jade Parker reflects on her own first-hand experience of the clubs in the UK, and muses on the value of these kinds of rarefied spaces in general.

Today, the argument is not simply whether the arts are virtuous and intrinsically valuable to individuals, communities and society as a whole, but whether it is still too virtuous for everyday people. We now confidently assume the right to be in contemporary art spaces, public and commercial, and to enjoy meaningful art experiences and peer-to-peer expressions of thoughts and feelings. Any barriers of access faced by the working class are largely practical, not perceptual. 

But exclusivity has always fueled this industry, in part justifying the loose regulation of the art market and the promotion of lavish, Instagram-ready social lives; and most participants and audiences, younger and older, aren’t explicitly concerned with art’s monetary worth. Instead, its significance is measured through its social currency, timeliness, and relatability. The high esteem and cultural value associated with belonging to this conglomerate widely understood as the art world is measurable and desirable, and so the stakes are high.

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"There was a strange nostalgic feeling too, 
like I was watching an old childhood tape."

In August 2022 it was announced that the above-exclusive 37-year-old Groucho Club in London’s Soho was acquired by the owners of the blue-chip Hauser & Wirth gallery for £40 million ($45.2 million) through their hospitality company, Artfarm. At the time, Ewan Venters, CEO for both ventures, said that “under Artfarm’s ownership, the future of the club is assured. We will respect the history and traditions of the club, and we look forward to engaging with its membership to create a long-term future for the Groucho that builds on its eclectic appeal and maverick ethos.”

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