Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Inspiring Exhibitions

I've seen a couple of well timed exhibitions recently. Caroline and I went to the Baltic in Gateshead to see Double Agent a group exhibition featuring artists who use other people as a medium.

All of the works raise questions of performance and authorship, and in particular the issues that arise when the artist is no longer the central agent in his or her own work, but operates through a range of individuals, communities and surrogates.

As well as it's relevance to the residency and collaboration, it was also interesting for it's interactivity. There's an observation by writers and curators of contemporary art that currently a visit to a gallery has become 'an experience'. This is in contrast to a time when a gallery was more of a site of contemplation.

It was all useful research for Caroline and I as we contemplate the possibilities for collaboration, exhibition and dissemination. The installation The African Twin Towers - Stairlift to Heaven by Christoph Schlingensief consists of a video projection of a film of a megalomaniac theatre director relocating the 9-11 story to Africa with his regular troupe of non-professional performers. Directly in front of the projection a white stairway rises across the screen. The viewer is invited to occupy the chair stair lift and rise up diagonally across the screen to a small viewing peephole where an intimate thumb sucking scene is being played out on film by two of the troupe! The chair lifted viewer becomes part of the work.

The other inspiring exhibition is Communication Suite in the Wolf son Medical School at Glasgow University curated by artist Christine Borland.
The exhibition explores the role of communication in art and medicine and is displayed in the actual rooms at the University of Glasgow's Medical School where students are taught how to communicate with patients through role-play with actors. The artist developed the concept of the exhibition after observing students practice their communications skills in these simulated consultations.
http://www.amh.ac.uk/images/-Communication%20Suite%20exhibition%20pdf.pdf, and www.glasgowwestend.co.uk/whatson/art-of-communication-exhibition.php

The exhibition is inspiring as work that can emerge out of an artist's residency in a university department, as an exhibition that works very well in a site specific space outwith a gallery, and that brings together a range of works by different artists round the theme of communication.