How can innovative ways of showcasing art help to make art more accessible?

Hear insights from Art Night co-founder, Philippine Nguyen and curator, Rebecca Edwards, at our November meetup! We’ll explore innovative methods of going ‘against the grain’ in exhibiting art and look at how we can make art more accessible.

Wednesday, November 8th, CASS ART Islington. Tickets are sold out, but we’ll be live tweeting!

PHILIPPINE NGUYEN

Co-founder, Art Night London

What inspired you to create Art Night in London?

My co-founder Ksenia had the initial idea. She worked at the Mayor’s Office in Paris in the culture team, on a festival called Nuit Blanche. This festival has been going on for 15 years and is a one-night contemporary arts festival in unusual sites or public spaces, so – as you can see – this is our inspiration for Art Night. Nuit Blanche has inspired many other initiatives and there are now over 30 cities which stage similar festivals worldwide, including Art Night in London. We thought it was a shame not to have anything that was truly ‘all night’, which enabled tourists and Londoners to enjoy art while (re) discovering their city.

What’s the social impact of showcasing art in previously unexplored environments?

The main impact is that by showing art in unusual spaces, we attract wider audiences for contemporary art than traditional galleries, as discovering spaces is a big hook for audiences. Our aim is to make contemporary art more approachable and democratic. Also the festival is completely free, which helps to appeal to people regardless of income.

What’s the social impact of showcasing art in previously unexplored environments?

The main impact is that by showing art in unusual spaces, we attract wider audiences for contemporary art than traditional galleries, as discovering spaces is a big hook for audiences. Our aim is to make contemporary art more approachable and democratic. Also the festival is completely free, which helps to appeal to people regardless of income.

What are the challenges of exhibiting so much art in such a short space of time with Art Night?

It’s always very challenging. First, we are presenting art in mainly non-traditional art spaces, which have not been thought for showing art. All equipment needs to be brought in, sometimes there isn’t even electricity and access can be complex. We’ve used a disused Tube platform, the Bascule Chamber below Tower Bridge, a very operational space which enables the bridge to open to let vessels pass. We’ve also presented art in candle-lit, historic Dennis Severs’ House, in vacant warehouses, construction sites, open spaces and even a luxury show apartment. The short space of time means that we can only present projects that can be installed and de-installed fairly quickly. Sometimes we’ve had to de-install in just a few hours (between 4am and 8am), for example, in order for churches to operate normally for Sunday mass. We have a great team who now have great experience doing this, after two editions of Art Night. But it has been a learning curve!

Photo credit: http://thierrybal.com/

REBECCA EDWARDS

Curator, arebyte Gallery

arebyte recently relocated from Hackney Wick to London City Island. What excites you about the new arebyte space?

One of the most exciting things about our move to London City Island is the potential for bigger and better exhibitions – the gallery space has almost tripled in size and is perhaps more fitting for the kind of shows we have planned, both aesthetically and practically. Of course, another really great thing about our move is the possibility of engagement with all the residents who live on the Island! A ready-made possible audience of a couple of thousand people, from all walks of life and backgrounds, will be invaluable.

arebyte recently relocated from Hackney Wick to London City Island. What excites you about the new arebyte space?

One of the most exciting things about our move to London City Island is the potential for bigger and better exhibitions – the gallery space has almost tripled in size and is perhaps more fitting for the kind of shows we have planned, both aesthetically and practically. Of course, another really great thing about our move is the possibility of engagement with all the residents who live on the Island! A ready-made possible audience of a couple of thousand people, from all walks of life and backgrounds, will be invaluable.

What’s the social impact of showcasing art in previously unexplored environments?

For arebyte, exploring new environments, both physically and conceptually, is energising and informs our work. We are constantly looking for new ways to reach out to various different audiences as a means of understanding how we engage and encourage discussion around art, and all of its peripheral threads.

Moving to the new site will be challenging in many ways, a major one being accessibility for existing and future audiences. Canning Town and the surrounding areas are relatively new territories for our audience. However, recently there’s been a shift in the areas that galleries and artists occupy – like us, more and more are being moved out of their current sites due to development or increasing rents. The social impact of this in particular will be huge and will open up areas of previous cultural deficit, to areas of destination for culture, for artists, students, creative people and beyond.

Are there any challenges when curating new media and performance art?

A big challenge we face is actually less about curation per se, and more about documentation. We have a responsibility to encourage the longevity of the work we show and sometimes a simply installation photograph wont suffice.

Of course, the combination of physical and virtual elements, how and where to present the work (online/onscreen/onsite), technological advances and the propagative nature of the medium are all challenging factors when working with new media and performance.

Are there any challenges when curating new media and performance art?

A big challenge we face is actually less about curation per se, and more about documentation. We have a responsibility to encourage the longevity of the work we show and sometimes a simply installation photograph wont suffice.

Of course, the combination of physical and virtual elements, how and where to present the work (online/onscreen/onsite), technological advances and the propagative nature of the medium are all challenging factors when working with new media and performance.

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