Keepin’ Up with the E-Flux, part 2

In my last post, I talked about keeping up with email announcements from e-flux. Another interesting note I came across…

First let me preface this with the fact that I’ve been thinking about curating and exhibitions a lot–well, yeah, obviously, since that is my field. But in particular, I’ve been thinking about exhibition organization and design. For practical reasons, due to a lack of money, energy and time on the part of understaffed museums, exhibition organization and design often defaults to the basic. As my current boss asked me pleadingly in my interview when he was still just my prospective boss, “what’s the solution?” I don’t know, but I’m thinking about it.

I worry that, in my career, not only will I lack the resources but the creativity to come up with alternatives to white walls, single row hangs, organization by chronology or theme. I am finding that when I work with my curator on installations, I think very linearly, while he does not; he says he was the same way when he just got out of school, but he was pushed and he changed, so hopefully I will too.

Part of the tension is that I am perhaps taking the educational function of museums too literally. How can we teach our visitors about art history unless we hang our permanent collection chronologically, or by school or nationality, and explain exactly why we’re doing it? But you can’t teach unless you first attract, and my curator tends to focus on the aesthetics of the installation, without being overly concerned with didactics. There may yet be a happy middle ground between our approaches, one I can learn to implement in the future.

But I digress. The point of this meandering thread was that in my e-flux readings I came across an idea that intrigued me. The announcement was about an exhibition of a Danish furniture designer in a Korean museum:

New exhibition style, new stories each month
In a dedicated space at the museum, some of his famous designs will be displayed differently under different themes each month—a new exhibition style experimented for the first time in Korea…

So many questions! Does this mean an actual rearrangement of the objects? Or just different didactic texts? I doubt they’ll actually be changing wall color, but will they actually be changing wall color?  I want to see what form this experimentation takes, but given that the exhibition’s in Korea, and I’m not sure how good or public their installation photography will be, I doubt I will. So the other question: “the first time in Korea…”–where else has it been implemented? Can I see how that worked?

An intriguing idea, and one to keep in mind in future. But as I said, I worry about the educational function of museums, and that overly designed or gimicky or obscure arrangements will confuse and alienate visitors, rather than attract and educate them. Once again, a middle ground can be found, but it’s a delicate balance.

In my next post, I’ll post (the noun is the same as the verb) a little mini paper/exhibition review I wrote for a museum studies class a couple years ago, about a case when exhibition design went too far.

One thought on “Keepin’ Up with the E-Flux, part 2

  1. Pingback: Keepin’ Up with the E-Flux, 3; or, Validation! | SmARTy ART Chick

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