My first impression of An Exhibition was the stark emptiness of the space – though what else should I have expected, considering two of the main contributing artists, Lawrence Weiner and Stefan Brüggemann, are known for their minimal intervention when creating works. Weiner, founder of the postminimalist movement, and Brüggemann whose installations are characterized by his minimal intrusion, are exhibited alongside MMU trained Carey Young and works by the Itinerant Texts Art Collective.
An Exhibition seeks to question what the components of an exhibition are. Beneath the title An Exhibition three criteria are set out:
1) a space that must be filled
2) an interaction between artist, curator, audience and the gallery
3) a conversation about the use of language and communication through the display of art.
As one might guess, instead of following these conventional exhibition rules, the show attempts to questions them, with each piece only satisfying the basic criteria, and going no further. What results is a set of images which tick the necessary boxes for it to qualify as ‘an exhibition’, but without actually creating anything more than a set of images. What seems to be being explored here is the gap between the exhibition criteria and what makes for a coherent exhibition experience, and the artistic possibilities which emerge from that gap.
The central space in the gallery is filled by 4 temporary walls with 1560 possible names of exhibitions that enshrine a 2×2 cube of cardboard boxes each with NOTHING scrawled across them, the epitome of a non-piece, an artwork in denial of being a work of art. Here, questions of what makes a work of art, and what qualifies as art, as ‘an exhibition’, are probed intelligently and interestingly.
You are guided around the room by a mind-map of comments such as ‘aha’ and ‘nice idea’ towards the first piece, where, printed on the wall in strong block capitals are the words: A TRANSLATION FROM ONE LANGUAGE TO ANOTHER. Ironically nothing has been translated – the words are the same as they would be on a page – but now on a wall in an exhibition it has become a ‘work of art’. Painted on the remaining walls are AS LONG AS IT LASTS, (THIS IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE) and finally I CANT EXPLAIN AND I WONT EVEN TRY each following a similar self-contradictory trend.
An Exhibition stands as a witty satire of the art industry, and, as we have seen, raises important questions of what is an exhibition and what is a work of art.
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