Discussing the gallery context

The hangout following the third video lecture started off with a discussion on the relationship between the curator and the artist, and how the curator appears to have the upper hand in that particular relationship. At least, that certainly appears to be the case with artists on the lower end of the pecking order (the stellar names out there will have a different view on this, I'm sure). It is the curator who chooses what the public need to see, pulling together topical themes and artists in a way that serves their own purpose, perhaps with the curator being paid by the venue and the artist paying for the opportunity to be looked at and chosen to further pay for their prints (or work, I'm thinking photographically here) to be made and framed, transported to the venue and hung... The balance certainly appears to be against the artist, but then with so many artists out there, this will be the case.

We split into groups to discuss various questions. It was down to me, Emma and Alison to discuss audience and destination. The notes from the various groups are provided below, as they were recorded (by Caroline I think) during the hangout. The orange within our section is to provide a little more context into what we were actually talking about.

The art gallery as destination
Different forms of galleries, open house, etc, different ways of interacting with audience,

Trad - gallery.
There's also the smaller and non-traditional galleries beyond the "big names", such as the Tate, that are available. Some are dedicated art places (like Bank Street Arts I exhibited in during July), others are places that art can be seen, such as "arty" cafes, libraries, temporarily repurposed empty shops, outdoor spaces or generally anywhere with a level of footfall.

Open house - more social.
I've never been to, or taken part in, an "open house", when the artist invites people into their working space, often in conjunction with other artists in the area. Personally, I wouldn't like strangers coming into my personal space, but then my "studio" is an upstairs room in my house, and this might be different if I had another space for working in. With such an event, there isa greater level of interaction with the viewer, over a cup of coffee (or glass of wine!); a discussing of the work so that there is certainly something to be gained in terms of feedback.

Diff audience, more interactive.
Some venues provide a wider variety of ways of reaching the works, through the use of technology or just by being otherwise inventive; it's not just about the work hanging on the walls anymore [I discussed something along these lines with the photographer Jim Mortram a little while ago, as there was a level of context thathad been lost when just viewing his portraits in a show - we talked about things like QR codes with links to videos or background stories, etc.]

Education - schools, get young to look at it.
This was something particularly close to Emma's area of interest as a teacher; she was surprised that some people get to their teens without seeing the inside of a gallery. Looking back, this was also the case form me too - there weren't many galleries in Blackpool (The Grundy, next to the library is the one I can remember, maybe there were others. It wasn't really somewhere you would go for a day out though - no cafe or anything! I did take the arts trip to Paris as a thirteen-year old though. And as my parents had friends living in Oxford, I'd been to Pitt Rivers, but remember that more as a museum than a gallery (was there a dinosaur there...)

Gallery may be new experience.

myriad forms of galleries - find what’s right for artist - presents in right way, and connects.
Refer to the above. In addition, Emma spoke of some work with St Clements hospital's psychiatric ward, where the work had a tactile nature and was printed on carpet before hanging on the walls.

What do we mean by audience?
Work with hospital makes audience more of a curator, as they do the work.
This was the work I mentioned above. I'm not sure what was being picked up on with "as they do the work", but the work has to be appropriate and chosen for the patient, so it in that respect the comment was made.

A lot of art seen on the internet, so that changes the audience.
The Internet audience is many things. It is the widest audience we can possibly imagine, pretty much everyone is a possible viewer, and they will make decisions to move on, to engage, to reblog, or "like" something within very short timescales. If this is the desired audience, then you have to be "socially aware" to make the most of it.

The ‘aura’ disappears too. Or is different. Not the same presence online.
The "aura" being referred to is that which Walter Benjamin wrote about ("...age of mechanical reproduction." essay), and that John Berge further disucssed in his "Ways of Seeing" series of essays and TV programmes. Benjamin talks of "The uniqueness of a work of art is inseparable from its being imbedded in the fabric of tradition,", however we now have very different traditions, and are now producing work in a "Post Internet" age, there is a new tradition starting... What we were talking about though is how a photograph on an iPad is not the same as a photograph on a wall, or a sculpture or a painting. You lose certain subtleties, such as brush strokes, the makers movements on the material or even something in the difference between a back-lit media and printed media.

Attention span of audience on internet. Short.
The nature of the modern audience, especially on the Internet, is that we are becoming used to "now". We no longer have to visit a reference library for information, all information is on the Internet (well, all information you would find in a reference library anyway, and lots more beside). Similarly, if we want to see an image by so-and-so, we Google it and it's instant gratification. How many times have we given up looking for something if it's not on the first page or two of search results? Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? Well, I actually think it's just a "thing" and to be more successful we will need to adapt - survival of the "fittest" is not a new phenomenon.

Limited by small site. erm...

Most artists leave the work to the viewers to interpret
This comment will have been made in response to some discussion on the death of the author I guess. As an artist, we put our work "out there", together with maybe an artists statement for context and people will make of it what they will. Short of using strong clichés and heavy signifiers, we can not force the viewer to buy into our intentions. We can guide, but that's about it...

The art has a life of its own

Is the viewer seen as an interactor that completes the exchange of ideas between the artist, the art and the public space or do they perform a different role?
interactor as a receiver. sometimes they are ask to finish the piece (move things, move around an installation, etc) and sometimes they are just viewers of an image.
receiver of the idea of the artist, sometimes they will finish the piece... as they walk around.
most artists leave their work to the viewers to make their own interpretations an artists perspective can be v different from the viewers
Some artists create work for viewer and some galleries direct artists to
make work in a way that sells - to survive
A painting can be an object with its own reality however viewer can also
make a connection with the work/me - artwork can also take on a whole new sequence, artist and viewer unified emotionally and intellectually

What about contextual requirements for a work, what control do we have as artists over our work in the public domain?
you have no control once a work is out, unless you are in the gallery next to your piece of work otherwise we are all from different cultures so there will be different perspectives - maybe this is a positive thing, learning from others, others seeing your pieces
Once artwork is out there and displayed we, as artists have very little control, the art has a life of its own
We have very little control and If I were doing something I would make detailed notes how something was to be hung/displayed - and with links to my website so a curator could see the rationale
Good that different curators can take works and do interesting things with it and artists might get more out of it than less
artist has no control over artwork once it is displayed
Space in which the art is viewed is v important, a context, interpretation can be altered by context, don’t show work is space is unsuitable

Is it necessary to make a career out of our art practice and if so why?
A lot of artists might have a day job and a career as an artist might need to be supplemented, earnings wise
Celebrities - eg Bono, Annie Lennox, sometimes make visual art as a sideline, using celebrity status to inflate selling prices
In Germany there is a career path that is very bureaucratic, you need to have a paper from the academy to enable you to get insurance. you are taught by a master artist at the academy - you can be a tandem (?) in the south so you are accompanied by an artist as a mentor, to support you and help you to develop - a typical German way.
We have chance in most countries - in Germany you have a system
Selection for the academy then gives you a stamp of authority if you are chosen to be taught by a Master. For foreigners in Germany if you are well known on the art world then curators will select your work, e.g. juried shows. No prizes after 50 years of age !
Artist world is like a shark pool

What does success look like for an artist?
depends on where you are in your career Doing it for yourself
selling a painting
To gain respect as an artist
To have a name that is recognised
To have a network
Having a job as a photographer means I have success but for me personally it is different
Living the dream - to support yourself doing what you want to do
Being thankful and grateful for an exhibition and for selling a painting Grateful for someone looking at your work?
Grateful for someone liking your work?
You are doing your work for yourself... There is no ‘audience of one’
How do we manage knock backs?
a real artist is not successful in his lifetime
Is it for a journalist to say what success is anyway?
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