A cabinet for skin / post-exhibition / practice of acting (part 4)

Contemporary art meets Christmas festival 

First day

  • Roughly  500 people walked through
  • Seven hours continuous interaction with visitors
  • Making connections important
  • To have touchable ‘skin’ material (acrylic paint skin) present was very helpful – for visitors to understand what is was made of , and to avoid the desire to touch the pieces (though some still couldn’t resist to do so)
  • Large variety of responses: recycling trash, plastic, ballons; angel, death (both came from small kids), fragmentation, vulnerable
  • Some peaked in the room and left, some walked in and left , others walked in and around and took time to engage , and a few very interested and good talks happened; interesting observation when kids came along with the parents , parents appeared through their kids more open
  • Good response on ‘Wall Skins’ especially those in front of the window with light shining through (connotations to shadow theatre)
  • Wall-Skin: connotation with Batik (old Indonesian Java origin, wax-dye resist technique)
  • Got a few good new connections with fellow artist (broadening network )

Second day:

  • nearly 1000 visitors walked through
  • Feeling that my works asked too much of the audience (mostly local people from the rural area, not ‘used’ to ‘contemporary art’)
  • Many followed the approach ‘look and leave’ , at the doorway, not even entering the room
  • I were able to connect with a few and gave them also ideas for their own creative making (acrylic paint skin)

Some quotes from visitors (translated from German by me):

“Is this trash?” “Is this anti-art?” “I wouldn’t pay 5 Euro for it” “I don’t like to touch it [acrylic paint skin].”  “What can I do with that? Hanging on a wall?”  “Thanks – very interesting ”  “Ideas must one have” “Never seen something like that” “What is it?”

I placed a box with dry paint skin for the audience to touch, to engage (and to avoid that they touch the suspended items). I also placed a sign “Please touch” on it. However, it need also at times also a verbal invention from my side to touch. Some didn’t like to touch at all. And some just touched the suspended items.

Reflection on my work and installation:

  • Quality : I am aware that my works on display might not be at the standard that I would consider as right (seeing them on site tremendously helped me to understand that). How can I reach higher standards without sacrificing freshness, expression, looseness? Would higher standards mean to put more control into the process ?
  • Reception: How to develop it further ? I still find a dissonance between regional ‘art-commodity-approach’ and global contemporary art scene through established galleries . Are theses two worlds never connected? If I am in one how to get into the other? How to connect into wider global art scene? How did others do that? Too worried ? Anxiety to miss something. Insight : the audience today might not be the audience at all who would ever buy such works. Failing? Who is my audience? For whom do I make? For collectors? For galleries? For museums? For …?
  • Relationship: The works were installed based on the restrictions of site (no ceiling or wall fixtures, no tape on the wall etc. by conservation rules of that old building) I had to install three pieces in the center hovering above one plinth , suspended from a chandelier. These items were rather close to each other.  Idea for larger room (Fig, 1). 
  • Text: I provided joining text through a flyer (english, german). Would a wall text attract attention more effectively? (btw, not many took a flyer with them, same with artist card)
  • Expanding: Having tie to experience my installation site, I was wondering how much mono-ha is or could go into this. The dialogue between the wall pieces and the suspended items, simple relationship in space and embracing various moments of tension and suspension.
  • Other questions: Do I need a guestbook for even small exhibitions? Would recording names, emails, addresses of visitors work in this region? I didn’t try, so no insight here. Do I need to have my residential address on my artist card? (currently just my website, email and social media profiles)
Fig. 1: idea to separate hovering works, one per plinth / a statement of statue?
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  • I am impressed at the attendance numbers through the doors in 2 days Stefan! Either way you have gathered lots of data that you can work with going forward. The interactive touch box worked out brilliantly, not all contemporary art is that generous ; ) Congratulations on achieving so much in such a short time.

    • Stefan says:

      Thanks for your kind feedback – yes, the touch box – one idea that I had since last year when I showed my object-box at oxotower, London with OCA showcase. To invite, to touch . Also an idea strongly coming across form Abraham Cruzvillegas – acting upon materials / this helped to spark some creative moments – in talk – with some . The crowd – no time to take pictures – I was completely immersed in it – shifting my position from a wall inside the room to the doorway – should I show myself , being present? I observed audience – body language – eye movements (need to add this to my reflection as well) . Perhaps all of this engagement has to do with what matters for me: crossing borders and boundaries , in all sorts of areas

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