The Role of a Gallery Space

Looking closely at the traditional white cube gallery space and how this has come into rejection over the years, my thoughts came to the role of an exhibition space. Our experience of this environment becomes a restriction, nothing should be touched, no talking, laughing and we slowly pace ourselves around the works of art. Anything presented in this space will be known and seen as art. The podiums represent authority and importance thus neglecting the space around. Marcel Duchamp is a prime example of a change in attitude, plus the rejection to a traditional gallery space. By creating his first ‘readymades’ (everyday objects placed in the gallery) in 1913, Duchamp cleverly created awareness of what can be accepted as art and furthermore, how the space can be used.

The role of a gallery space came to my mind during my viewing at this years Biennale. Referencing the likes of Anne Imhof’s ‘Faust’ and how the German Pavillion was completely altered with glass floors and industrial steel framing, alongside the powerful performance. This then allowed the gallery space to take on a whole new role. Also located in the Giardini we look at Phyllida Barlow’s ‘Folly’ where her monumental sculptures are invading the whole space and additionally, lead to the outside.

With this in mind I would like to recall our notion of how a gallery space can be used. Even when looking at the Scotland and Venice exhibition space, Rachel Maclean’s ’Spite Your Face,’ it created questions among the public. Even while being located in a deconsecrated church, people feel offended that a film which references controversial topics could be placed in a previous place of worship. However, the Church brings a whole new context to the film. It adds an emotional response and, not forgetting, the vital message that is set of political and sexual power. Site specific work can completely immerse the viewer in an exhibition. It causes reactions and questions which leads to conversation and awareness of current and past issues. Therefore, at this years Venice Biennale the gallery spaces are altered by the work itself or the actual space, this is a crucial element in adding awareness to the surrounding issues.