In this blog post, community co-curator Viktoria Kovalcikova speaks about the different elements involved in the making of Global Artists – The Whole World Paints display.
We spent several workshops thinking about interpretative elements for the display, making lists of ideas and trying out different approaches. Some of the features in our initial plan were; an art trail, a printed column with questions and quotes, a dance performance, floor mats with cut-outs of the paintings. We began by thinking big, because that is when you get the best variety of ideas and once we had our rough list down, we then began to think about what was doable and practical within the physical space that we were dealing with but also about what would fall within our budget and time scale.
The main feature within the interpretation approach is the the salon-style hang/painting installation. It plays a part in establishing juxtapositions and allows for arguments, comparisons and conversations to develop between the 12 artworks on display. It is also an artwork of our own making – the presentation of the paintings as an installation thus creates a collaborative piece of art. We wanted our interpretative elements to be varied which is why Malka’s poem, one of the other project participants, became an interpretative elements too.The poem makes up part of the interactive video idea, as the poem may be viewed as a video of Malka’s reading of the piece; available on a tablet in the exhibition space itself and online.
Another feature of our interpretation is a dynamic soundscape by Helena and Darren, two other project participants. They created this audio piece to compliment the hang but also the key aims and themes of the overall project. Furthermore, there is the interactive element of the exhibition, made up of a collection of videos and text view-able on a tablet placed in the gallery but also online. All this is complimented by a set of two games that we developed, centred around getting the audience to begin thinking about the artworks on display, looking at juxtapositions, and getting them to actively question surrounding art hierarchies, notions of value and reputation. These questions linked to the overall objectives of the display but helped visitors find an accessible route ‘in’.
We believe that the varied spread of interpretative elements created aids in getting our aims and themes communicated to the audience but also creates a very unique but inventive spread of experiences complimenting the final design of the exhibition.
Curation through discussion
An interesting feature of our collaborative co-curation was the fact that we talked and discussed everything to do with the project. All aspects big or small where discussed in a group environment, some tasks were assigned to certain individuals, such as areas of research. Final decisions, however, were not made until we discussed many options, looked at all the compiled research and came to an agreement, which is key when working in a group.
Our collaboration was formed by (weekly) meetings, workshops, trips and talks with artists and other professionals. Our trips to the British Museum stores and visits to other artist studios was a major part of the project and our lively discussions, including on the trains, tube and buses, formed the foundation of what is now a completed exhibition made up of an installation of paintings, text and a collection of interpretative elements including video interviews. On the train, for instance, we finalised who we wanted to interview for our videos, and began thinking about questions that we wanted the exhibition to pose to the audiences. We made the most of the time we had togethe.
All this is what is so interesting and exciting about the project. Collaboratively we exchanged knowledge, questions, and out of the many artworks and art objects in the collections of both Leicester Museums and the British Museum we developed an installation of paintings from all over the world, looking at various contexts and art ecologies, questioning art values, reputation and art hierarchies, juxtaposing paintings and painting styles.