This time last year I’d never even heard the word “curation“, so I was far from imaging I’d be placed into a group and be given the opportunity to curate my own show; alas, here I am. Having first hand gone through the experience of preparing to curate an exhibition, this post will act as something of a guide for those who are either going through the same thing, or are quite simply just curious.
Find art: If you’re going to be curating an art exhibition, having some art to display is pretty vital. Keep an open mind about themes you may want to consider, it may be specific like “flowers” (in which case, obviously choose art with a floral theme), or it could be a vague theme, as my group chose. We decided upon the concept of “How long did that take?“. Though having a vague theme makes for a harder time finding agreeable artwork to put into the exhibition, ensuring everything aesthetically compliments each other whilst maintaining its vast differences to fit all areas of the theme, it allows us to broaden the range of our potential audience. Be sure not to only choose works specific to your personal taste, unless you’re looking for a niche market of people with the exact same preferences as you. It is wise to note that not everyone appreciates the same types of art. My group considered this fact and felt it would positively enhance controversy between pieces when asked “how long did that take?”
Puppeteer the audience: As a curator, you have a godly power. With your efforts alone, you have the ability to control minds; do you want your audience to feel sad? Empowered? Disgusted? The art you choose puts their entire mind in the palm of your hands! “How long did that take?” was decided to be an interactive exhibition (thus making it more memorable too) encouraging the audience to consider the efforts behind each artists concepts and processes behind making the work. Something that may be deceivingly simplistic might actually have years of preparation and research behind it as well as a multitude of layers, meanwhile a seemingly complex piece may take a talented artist no more than a mere few hours. It may also be beneficial to note that people always respond well to things that provide snacks.
Planning: Now that you have your art and exhibition theme in mind, it’s time to begin preparation. Do you have a venue? Sketch it out with measurements to figure where the pieces should be. Do they look right? Is it possible for you to display the artwork in the way you intend it to be displayed there? Do you even have the artists permission to use their work? You must bare in mind that not everyone will allow you to use their work, some pieces may change, and others might drop out last minute. Expect the unexpected. Also, advertise! Posters, press release, pamphlets, do everything possible to stand out of the box; get creative, after all it is an art exhibition. Do you still have a spare bit of money left over to buy snacks? As magical as an art exhibition can be, they are not always perfect. In fact, with tripping hazards, things dangling from the ceiling, and potentially murderous artists (if their work dare be ruined by you or a member of the public), a health and safety precautions are a must. It’s wise to think of even the most ridiculous scenarios just to ensure every possibility is checked over and nobody gets hurt.
The big day: The first challenge we had was finding the artwork all over again. People had been moving them around constantly, when it came for our turn to move them it was rather scary; walking down stairs backwards holding something so fragile yet so important. Some pieces were easy to display, they only required a bit of blue tac or a nail in order to hang them, however, we had two large circles hanging from the ceiling that felt impossible to display: they snapped string; rope looked ugly; in the end we were lucky to come across somebody with expensive wire for us to use. We also had a challenge figuring out how to put the video installation on a loop, however, after a good ten minutes we figured out how to make it automatically run for the rest of the night.
Overall the event ran smoothly and was a huge success, as was the deinstallation. Personally, I’m very proud of what I and the group have achieved.