We all decided that we’d like to make this an exhibition with all elements of our work represented, in other words video as well as stills. Allocating space in the area given to us proved to be difficult as some members of the team were still working on their exhibition submissions.
To help us decide the allocation of space we measured out the dimensions of the room and drew up a basic floor plan. Two members of the team had a selection of work ready which would require a fairly large space, the other two stated they only required a smaller area to display their work.
After a tour around several galleries in London the decision was made between us to exhibit one or two of our projects and to put up a mix so that not all the same assignments were on show although all did adhere to the general theme.
We identified the core elements of our work this year as appropriation, fakery, forbidden entry to places and graffiti, a nefarious element pervading it all. With this in mind the title of “Inglorious Artists” was conceived, the meaning of which echoes the more unsavory characteristics of the criminal world and is therefore reflected at the heart of our exhibition pieces.
One area of the venue was unusable to hang pictures due to two telephone call boxes and large wooden lockers which we were unable to remove but this did offer a location in which to position a screen on which to project our appropriation video films. This room was long and narrow with bare walls at the opposite end. By agreement I took the space in this room. Room 3 offered a long bare wall and a dark alcove, perfect for displaying a series of prints and another video. Arthur took this space to show his still images and his video ‘O’ in the alcove. On the other side of this room was a smaller bare wall area and a door which we wanted to block with a large board. Josh and Yemi agreed to use this space with another wall space available in the second room if required.
Working out how best to use the space was a challenge. Too much work would over saturate the viewer leading to poor feedback. Not enough on display would leave the work drowning in the space resulting in the viewer feeling cheated. Finding the balance was difficult but mostly we trusted our gut instincts.
Research beyond going around other galleries was limited as each space and art work is different. Sarah Thornton’s ‘Seven Days in the Art World’ helped by offering me a insight to the viewing experience. I also examined Joan Fontcuberta’s recent science museum exhibition and reading the reviews and curatorial comments in ‘Photofusion’ Exhibition Review, (www.photofusion.org/exhibition-review-joan-fontcuberta-at-the-science-museum/ ) as well as many reviews and comments of other galleries I’ve visited recently. All emphasised again the importance of the viewing experience.
In making my space work for me I considered not only what was being shown, but where it was placed, what size it was, what its relation was to the pictures next to it, how it was lit and overall did the the set ‘work’ i.e. did it flow or jar?
This last point was crucial as the aesthetics of the final look and feel of the exhibition were just as important as the work itself . Achieving that was not going to be easy in a run down poorly lit disused bingo complex.
At this point I still had not received a final confirmation e mail, and when I queried this I was informed it was being arranged. My worries were not going away, without that confirmation e mail our hosts could ‘pull the plug’ at any time.
As it turned out ‘pulling the plug’ is exactly what they did do.