– Exhibition as a Market: Artists began making work to sell rather than being commissioned. This lead to the exhibition originally being a format for buyers and artists to be introduced. The context reassured the public that the work was of a high standard. Positioning was everything: there were prime positions on the wall that had greatest visibility – a bit like visual merchandising in a shop, displaying things in a way that will make them sell better.
– Exhibition as Education: Like in the RA, the work is accompanied by a lot of text and explanantion, eg booklets, wall text, audio tours etc. The exhibition exists as a way of teaching you about the art, in line with the common notion that to enjoy the work without understanding it is inadequate.
This reminds me of some of the things I saw in Venice – the Palazzo Fortuny and the 2017 Future Generations Prize were some of my favourite exhibitions, and they provided no information about the works other than a name and date. I feel like letting the art speak for itself is more valuable.
– The Exhibition as making Public: The exhibition is a social ritual – you queue up, have a glass of wine, etc. There is a determined pathway to work your way through an exhibition – it is a form of theatre about how people move through a space. The artwork sets the conditions for how the viewer moves through a space. The exhibition is incomplete without an audience, the viewer is part of it from the moment they enter.
-The Exhibition as an Argument: The curator’s argument is evidenced by the work in an exhibition. It’s a way of saying these works belong together, and what isn’t here doesn’t. Positioning determines significance, as does format – the white cube format was originally used to make works seem more scientific and clinical.
-information is presented in three ways: a dictionary, work is ordered in advance; a map, you have to navigate your way around; or a magazine, each room is unrelated. The way of presenting is crucial to what an artwork says as well. A plinth is not just a plinth, when does is end and the work begin? etc.
-The Exhibition as Temporary: The work isn’t everlasting, therefore it becomes an event. Bigger risks are taken, more outlandish pieces are created.