Sunday, 23 June 2013

The Open Project Gallery Crawl ~ BMAG

This week marked the opening sessions of a new project I am involved with at mac birmingham.
The Open Project will produce a series of innovative exhibitions selected and devised by Young Curators. Drawing on the modernist idea that a house is a machine for living in, artist Trevor Pitt has developed The Open Project through the principle that the gallery is a machine for curating in, incorporating the act of curating into the space itself and sharing with the audience the processes that are usually kept behind the scenes.

After evaluating the role the curator, the space and the audience play within exhibition decisions in our first session, me and the other Young Curators descended on four of Birmingham's art institutions to find out more about their curation approaches first hand.

Grazia ToderiOrbite Rosse (Red Orbits), 2009
First we spoke to Katie Hall, Exhibitions Officer at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. Having looked around the current Gas Hall exhibition Metropolis: reflections on the modern city, it was fascinating to hear the narrative behind curating the space - designed to feel like walking through a day in the life of a city, she explained. The artworks take us through the accelerating hustle and bustle of the day before plunging into the darker side of city life. I noticed that the show starts with the dream-like haze of Andreas Gefeller's over-exposed photographs and finishes with night-time satellite photographs of city lights (SV series, 2012) by the same artist, also indicating that the city's life is cyclic.

Andreas Gefeller | CS 02, 2010

As Katie opened up for Q&A, the group voiced concerns about the lighting used in the show, in particular of the areas for video work not being fully blacked out. Katie explained that when working in such a historical space that considerations have to be made to the building itself, such as not attaching anything to pillars. This means what's best for a specific piece and what's best for the building have to be balanced. We also ask if when selecting work she is more led by the aesthetic or the concept of the work, and she says simply that there cannot be one without the other.

Huang Xu | Fragment No. 10, 2007 [left] Hanni Bjartalia | Untitled, 2012 [right]

Aleksandra Mir | World Map of Social Networks, 2009

Despite having seen a lot of the work before as the collection is shared with New Art Gallery Walsall, I found the final room of the show very refreshing, the visitor being led around Hanni Bjartalia's amazing suspended sculpture to experience work chosen around the idea of future cities and, interestingly, the concept of 'cities' being formed online. A thought-provoking end note to a vibrant and diverse exhibition.

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