Our Mission:

FRCC Museum & Gallery Studies
Fourth Annual Exhibition

Exploring the evolving definition of sculpture
through objects, conceptual ideas and social media

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Another Perspective

We talked in class about audience. Curation requires a vision, but it also requires an understanding of the audience.  When creating an exhibition, which is considered first?  What brings the audience?  Knowledge of a concept, and resulting appreciation of its expression, or the presentation of a concept, and stirring the audience to look further into the concept?  One presupposes that the audience already understands the concept, the other seeks to educate, inform them.  The reasons people view art are as diverse as the reasons for its creation.  

How do we create an exhibition that speaks volumes to our audience about this concept?  If they are not aware of the crossroads elaborated on by this article, what needs to be the topic of the exhibit?  Where do we start? In and through class I am learning about current artists and the concepts they are presenting in a way I would never encounter otherwise.  It is fascinating, and definitely beyond the scope of everyday conversation at FRCC, or my dinner table (this is changing though!). 

Recently in our area, at the Loveland Museum, an artwork by California artist Enrique Chagoya entitled “The Misadventures of Romantic Cannibals” was all but destroyed by a member of the audience from Montana, on the auspices that it was profane.  I wonder if the perpetrator had any understanding of the work prior to her act.  Had she researched the artist, learned about the piece, made an informed decision, or was this a reaction to media?  Upon reflection of the article, was her act “art”?  It certainly was matter transformed by energy..AND political..What does this mean to our exhibition?

So, fellow participants, what do you see as the starting point?  How art savvy do we perceive our audience to be?  Do we want to inform or confirm?  Our personal experiences with the art world definitely color our personal point of view so I am asking for yours.  Who is our audience?  How far down the rabbit hole do we go?  How obvious do we need to make the message?  How subtle can we be and still get it across?  Or do we let each artist do this work, and we set up the exhibition and stand back?  How far does curation go?

~ Alnasl


  1. As curator, when I am approaching putting together an exhibition, I first start with the objects, and consider them in regard to the concept of the show or the message I want to get across. Sometimes the objects dictate the concept, sometime it is reversed,(as in this case). I am always considering the visual sensory aesthetics of the arrangements of the objects, and the space between the objects. In considering the audience I want to inform them, and while I have an understanding of their limitations, I certainly would rather aim over their heads then bring the message down to a comfortable level. I want to expand their viewpoints, carry them forward in their knowledge and experiences. Yes, taste in art is a personal experience, and each viewer has their own take, however, I can only work from my perspective and my mission, I refuse to dumb the work down so all can understand. If some are confused, perhaps it will lead to more questions, and an active pursuit of knowledge and understanding. To engage a few is far better than to bore the many. There are too many "hoe-hum" exhibits in the area, my goal is to raise the bar, hopefully bringing my audience with me.

    As curator I see my duty to clearly present the works with the needed text and other information so that the message can be understood by the majority, if the viewer so chooses to pursue the information. If some people find it dis-satisfactory, or aesthetically unpleasing, while others are dramatically moved or otherwise impacted, then I would feel the show is a success. One can never please all the people, but to engage a few is enough.

  2. Here are my IDEAS about curating an exhibit. Acronyms are silly, I know, but it really does help me remember to always keep my objective in mind (which is to be as objective as possible).

    Information: Make sure the objective, the statement, the call, all didactic panels and literature reflect the purpose of the exhibit and the mission of the institution for which you are curating.

    In this case, I would say the purpose is to engage the audience in the discussion of process vs. product, art market(s) vs. art world(s), and object vs. non-objects. I believe it isn’t my job to judge, or comment but solely to present the information. I think of the curator as an artistic editor, a pathfinder for the masses on a journey to a common goal. I find the conversation gets richer the more resources & perspectives you have to pull from.

    Decoration & Design: I believe curatorially the exhibit should be nicely presented; basically in the words of Karl Lagerfeld, “A respectable appearance is sufficient to make people more interested in your soul.” The design and décor affiliated with the exhibit needs to enhance the aim of the exhibit, not detract from it. All designs, logos, and media needs to be consistent in order to create branding easily identifiable with the event.

    Education & Engagement: I believe in meeting the audience where they are at and encouraging conversation directly within the community in which I serve via websites, forums, lectures or activities related to the exhibit. I believe a community will embrace the ideas & material presented if they feel connected to it. I think this why it took an outsider to vandalize the exhibit at the Loveland Museum & the reason that the Fort Collins Art Museum isn’t seeing big turn-outs; community involvement is critical to the vitality of any art program.

    To me an object of art is about form (material) meeting function (imagination) and that place where the two meet is where the conversation is formed; between artist and object, object and audience and ultimately between audience and artist.

    Awareness & Audience: I believe a curator needs to be socially, culturally and politically aware; honoring to the best of their ability the sacred ceremonies, religious rites, beliefs and traditions of diverse audiences, objects, and artists.

    Socially Responsibility: Pornography, vulgarity, obscenity and violence all have their place in expressing the human experience. I believe the curator’s job is to present the articles in the exhibit in a socially responsible manner with purpose and intent. All sides deserve the right to be heard as long as it is done so with the intention of healthy debate in community or in order to raise social awareness.

    Please note that I have used the term institution in which I serve on purpose; a gallery, collecting museum, non-collecting museum and stand-alone exhibits all have very different intentions. However, I believe this manifesto serves as an ethical framework for my curatorial practice and therefore can be applied to each.

  3. If considering the audience is imperative, how do you help the audience understand that there is an experience that the artist goes through that doesn't have to do with a product or object but that the endeavor has more to do with an everyday look at life? For example, the prophetic words for the onset of conceptual art came form Tony Smith (sculptor and architect - Kiki Smith's daddy); commenting on a night drive along the unfinished New Jersey Turnpike:

    "The drive was a revealing experience. The road and much of the landscape was artificial, and yet it couldn't be called a work of art. On the other hand, it did something for me that art had never done. [It's] effect was to liberate me from many of the views I had about art. It seemed that there had be a reality there which had not had any expression in art. The experience of the road was something mapped out but not socially recognized. I thought to myself, it ought be clear that's the end of art. Most paintings look pretty pictorial after that. There's no way you can frame it, you just have to experience it."

    Land and Environmental Art ed: Jeffrey Kastner

    --Keith J.