This internship began in the second semester of the academic year and flew by so quickly that it is hard to believe that this will be my last post for Artspace. I’m trying to write this with the least amount of cheese as possible but in all honesty it is hard since I have not only enjoyed my time here but have also learned a lot. As mentioned throughout my blogs, my tasks as the programming intern differed depending on the day but were always realistic and worthwhile. Coming up with cheesy titles, painting the galleries, and speaking with artists are some memorable moments, although writing these blogs was probably the most thought-provoking and creative part of my time here.
When starting this internship, Jon and I had discussed some texts that would accompany the course well and I was assigned to read them and think about them as critically as I could for the purposes of developing my future publications. Of course as a naïve art student I had not realized that some of these texts would be actually enjoyable to read but more importantly make me frustrated and progressive. Starting from the beginning of my time here I looked at Berger’s text and the ways we view art but also the way we find ourselves as audience members within the gallery setting. This text was insightful for me because it led me down this road of comparison. Growing up and living in Ottawa other then to go to school, I had a lot of experience with the National Gallery. Arguably the most prestigious gallery, where you must check your coat, and everything is so incredibly sectioned off that there really is no sense of flow. Moving to Peterborough was my first experience I had with other galleries like the Art Gallery of Peterborough. Much smaller in comparison, but similar in the fact that there remains a somewhat quiet experience with the viewer taking in the works; what is really pleasant about this shift in galleries is the smaller manners of the gallery, the cohesiveness, and the constant change in the artist’s being presented. Finally, Artspace was also a dramatic change for me, as it was the first art-run center I had ever been to, and this really captivated me.
Having an exhibition installed for 6 weeks, and having another ready for set up a week later was fun, and critical to understanding the behind the scenes which I talk about a lot in my later postings with the closing of Omar Badrin and the opening of Olivia Whetung. Both of these exhibitions taught me the realities of what it takes to put on a show, but more importantly the number of interpretations that are experienced within a show. What I think was really key about my experience here was this understanding that contemporary works are meant to generate a conversation and that it is okay to not necessarily “understand” the art but rather what is important is that something is gained or learned from the experience or the pieces themselves. Connecting to my conversation on architecture it has become more and more clear that the act of consumption surrounds the art-world and that this process is necessary for its survival, however, recognition of privilege is also necessary in attempts to eliminate ignorance. Aesthetic plays a key role, but is far less important then the histories that accompany the works, the architectures and the artists.
Finally, my time here at Artspace has proven to me that to be a curator is a lot more work then just thinking works are pleasing and bringing them to the gallery. My last few blog posts have addressed these misguided assertions through the texts of Smith and Blazer and have been incredibly insightful as to how the audience views the gallery and its membership. It is very unlikely for something to be within the gallery setting without clear decision-making, from wall colour, to framing, all the way to where a piece is placed on the wall. The curator is meant to think of all encompassing questions, but also play this balancing game that represents the artists wants and their messages, but also be insightful to the audience. This has been a true turning point in my time here at Artspace because this understanding of the different jobs and the tasks that make up a curator are critical to understand how a gallery is wanted to be run.
Trying to refrain from being cheesy, this was a great experience and one that has been educational on a number of different levels. My internship at Artspace was really invaluable, and I am grateful for the awareness I have gained, the networking opportunities, the exposure to the realities of curation and being able to be involved with the Peterborough community for my last year at Trent.