Thursday night saw the opening of a new exhibition at BlankSpace. Titled "The View From Here", the exhibition looks to challenge the audience's perception of art, and the space in which it is displayed.
Drawing from his recent phd work at the University of Leeds, Andrew Broadey has created 3 pieces of work that explore the public's idea of conventional exhibition space, re-imagining the typical aesthetics of gallery space by exhibiting the space as the art, immediately creating a meta paradox in which the viewer begins to ask one's self what objectifies something as a piece of art. Andrew has perfectly questioned the typical approach to art, by exhibiting the space in a different medium he has shown that our view of what art is can be defined simply by the space in which it is exhibited. If this is the case then you begin to wonder if everything is art, simply waiting to be put in a white box room.
As you enter the gallery space you walk towards the first piece on show, "In Display". A series of prints lined along the wall, depicting standard Perspex leaflet trays. This piece documents the typical gallery approach to exhibition of art. The innate object is a standard element to most galleries, littering walls with printed information about what it is one is seeing. How is it that something as creative as art is always displayed in such a mediocre, mundane, and repetitive space.
As you walk up the stairs you are welcomed by a series of white box rooms accompanied by a series of objects. Titled "Shadow Box", these rooms explore the power exhibition spaces have in controlling the viewing experience, and helping define the art on show. Included in the spaces are a lamp, a Perspex cube and a pictogram. The 3 components depict the capacity that they have at displaying art.
The final piece, titled "Day Room", is a site specific catalogue of the space in which the art sits. By photographing the space periodically throughout the day, Andrew has managed to create a piece of art out of the room in which the art is displayed. The accumulation of the ever changing light within space is displayed in a gridded format, methodically outlining and breaking down the light conditions of space.
Andrew was kind of enough to let me discuss with him about his approach to the art on show and a further exchange about how what makes and defines the space of an art gallery. We talked about the progression and evolution of gallery space. If you think to say 300 years ago, art was part of the home, displayed on the cluttered walls of great estates, hung above the mantle piece to act as a focal point. Then art expanded and a bigger audience was needed, galleries appeared, a space in which to display art. Andrew discussed how it wasn't until the mid 20th century that what we now understand to be a gallery space, the typical "white box", came in to use. We began to talk about what it is that defines a gallery space, is it as simple as putting a collection of art in one place, or does the space have to be as subtle and yielding that no focus is taken from the art.
Street art posed an interesting debate as to wether the wall in which it is painted is the gallery, therefore meaning the world is one giant canvas, waiting to be painted. Land art is a significant art form as the land becomes both the art and the canvas, a strikingly similar premise to that of Andrew's work. There is a mass convention of what exhibition space should be, and perhaps it's form is the essence of what art needs in order to be truly appreciated, but is it the end to the development of the space?
What does the future hold for the space in which art is exhibited, is the white box the final solution, or will it be replaced or kept and a new gallery space invented with the evolution of new mediums for art. How can galleries expand from where they are now, without losing site of their true purpose, the positioning of art for all to see?
I recommend on all accounts a trip down to BlankMedia's BlankSpace, and have a look round out Andrew Broadey's work, it makes one question the space in which one views art. It is on show until the 7th of August.
BlankSpace is at 43 Hulme Street, Manchester, M15 6 AW.
By Jack Penford Baker
All images copyright to Jack Penford Baker