We are, these days, extremely proficient in expressing our preferences. Do you like it? Social media is fixated on keeping count of our approvals, and, such is the ubiquity of the thumbs-up, it is hard to not seek the same level of endorsement in non-digital life.
But ‘Do I like it?’ leads to a deadend. It polarises experience, as if everything can be divided into disappointment and satisfaction. So what if, all along, we have been asking ourselves the wrong question..?
Observing is a fundamental activity. We look at what’s around with ‘eyes like a hawk’ scouring for familiarities and similarities, not disappointments and satisfaction, and asking ourselves ‘What is it like?’.
To find a simile is to make a connection, and to make a connection is to reveal something. On reading and hearing similes our minds work to delve deeper, and even the most banal occurrences are rendered surprising and more lucid from irregular comparisons. At the beginning of T.S. Eliot’s poem The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock he describes a listless evening, ‘Spread out against the sky/ Like a patient etherised upon a table’ and we are excited to discover if the patient will ever recover. It’s a very upmarket way of saying ‘now read on’...
Like A Sieve – with its allusion to half-forgotten memories – is an exhibition of collage, sculpture, simulacra, pastiche. And, of course, similes.