Art of exhibiting: From the moon to slavery

The weekend is fast approaching and that can only mean one thing – it is a time to hit a gallery. Overwhelmed by the choice? Do not know where to start, where to go, nor what to look for? Taking Exhibition Studies allows me to see art institutions from a new perspective. And, as I am slowly uncovering the art of exhibition, I start realising that is it not about what you look for but what you see. Right in front of you, be it the truth or the imagination.


London is full of exhibitions, from arts to zoology, there is an institution for everything. It is hard to describe my surprise when I first learnt about the Andrea Tarsia’s article discussing the possibility of exhibiting on the moon. Tarsia artfully connects the reality with fiction and, by describing the fake reality, she makes the reader believe that what we read is true – yes, she was on the moon, yes, she has seen an exhibition there, yes, she was taken there by a space ship (obviously!). So, why, after we finish reading her ‘first exhibition on the moon’ did my class generate such a mixed feedback. Some believed it was true, some thought it was sci-fi. None of us, however, thought it could really happen. No one!


After overcoming the fear of looking like a fool, I realised that my initial idea of sneaking into the far reality and really setting up an exhibition on the moon is more than unreal. And thus, when re-creating this experience, we settled for VR glasses and gravity-free tunnels. The idea of the famous curator was therefore pushed aside, or, at least, postponed for a few years.

“[It] was too much for the white race to take in. And so they shut – the museum gates as well as the visitors’ eyes”

Thinking of something which can hardly be pronounced out loud, I learnt about an exhibition which was so outrageous that it had to close down. It was the Exhibit B. Picturing human slavery and embodying the cruel reality of enslaved population, it was too much for the white race to take in. And so they shut – the museum gates as well as the visitors’ eyes – to avoid facing the truth. Although played by actors, it was still too much for the free and unobstructed visitor to see and to think of. Too early, too. The Exhibit B proved the UK’s leading position in exhibiting-making. It did, however, failed to convince the audience that even the unpleasant objects, activities and events are worth seeing and thinking of.


And so, the art of exhibitions is yet to be discovered. For me, personally, as well as for the global audience. Currently, we go to museums to see and to admire art, to share and spread the news about us going. But who can openly say that they go to museums to change their mind sets? And even if, how often would you have to go and absorb art to be able to change who you are and start perceiving world in a new way? Exhibitions are powerful, but we must yet learn how to use this mean for good.


The first exhibition on the moon, Andrea Tarsia (source unknown)
(Accessed 15/1/2018)


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