It hasn’t been a frantic installation. I’ve experienced a few skin-of-the-teeth installs, many f’ing & blindingly tense installs, but this was a steady affair. The first artist to arrive, Hania Stella-Sawicka, installed her work in an empty gallery on Sunday. Scott Mason was with us on Monday – and we experienced a setback, the Mac Mini I’d set-up to run Scott’s digital work failed. Then, the replacement fell out with the monitor. We ended up switching monitors with Charlie Tweed – phew! Tuesday, three artists rolled in – Blue Curry, Dan Coopey and Kit Craig. They set about installing with minimum fuss, which was cool. We took delivery of Julian Brown and Duncan Swann’s work on Wednesday, and hung it (what else). Finally, Tom Iriks arrived with his photographs today. So, it’s all up. The projection room is finished for Christine Sullivan & Rob Flint’s audio/video piece (hand-painted screen, hand-rollered, using plenty of thin coats of emulsion and three even coats of Off Broadway, this plush light-reflecting paint, sweet). Job’s a good un.
Audio is always tricky. More so when there’re three works with audio tracks. Ours isn’t a large enough gallery to pool audio sources (where the closest sound overrides the rest). We’ve a work that is essentially an audio piece – so that plays open, out loud (though the recording could’ve benefited from a second mic). The other two are videos, they’ll use headphones (TWO pairs of Senneheiser closed cup, two pairs Lindy noise reduction). Yep, it’s a compromise – or is it, when there’s no alternative? Artists need to consider, to take responsibility for, the means of exhibiting artwork – with video, how can it be shown (which isn’t the same as how you’s like it to be shown), can it be projected or screened on a monitor etc. Most galleries have a limited store of tech, if an artist is too prescriptive their work is likely to be dropped, it all comes down to budgets. Still, good galleries will attempt to find the right tech for exhibiting a work. And, when it comes to space, what can a gallery do, it’s cloth is cut – it must remember that fact when organising a show, and so must the artist (don’t scale yourself out of shows). Also, when submitting work for consideration, do include useful dimensions – minimum floor space required, minimum height, not just the physical dimensions.
Anyway, tomorrow, my role in achieving a successful exhibition is done (bar maintainance) – every show for me is a flurry, this tumult that ends in stillness, when everything is still, held in the aspic of the lamp’s light, then, hey do, I’m away, headed to the next bustle. It’s almost impossible to know an exhibition until some weeks after installation, when it’s stripped of personality, issues and over-familiarity. I think this is a strong show, I’m guessing it won’t be devalued once I can really appreciate it – what I can’t even consider (because Emergency 5 is a competition) is the individual merit of the works, which should be deemed a winner. It’s not an aesthetic or even a truly critical judgement that the selectors make in deciding the winner, it’s an assessment of readiness, timeliness and benefit of a solo exhibition for the artist. The year or so between Emergency5 and that solo show is not very much time, it isn’t, the artist will have plenty of other commitments (or the selectors have missed something) – and, yep, there’s life to lead, with rent or mortgages to make, money jobs to be done (studios to be found, paid for – forget storage!). The winner of Emergency5 must be well on the road to sustaining a solo exhibition. I couldn’t select, it would be like slaughtering one turkey for Christmas when you’ve given the all the birds names. Nearly every artwork in Emergency has a face attached, came with a hand I shook, with a decent human being attached. Bloody artists!