These Places We Built

By Alexandre Pépin, Exhibit Production Assistant

image

Every artwork needs a space to exist, to be experienced. As a production technician intern at The Works Art and Design Festival, I worked with a team of other artists to create spaces for various artworks to be displayed. Building up these white gallery spaces required knowledge, effort, energy and commitment. These often long, exhausting installations got me to start thinking more about the important role these white, almost invisible gallery spaces play in the artistic practice.

I love the generic nature of this space.  The presence of lights, of masking-taped and drawn lines and of patched and cleaned walls indicates that everything is ready to be experienced but the art. In the absence of art, the space emphasizes the purest form of artistic regulation, informing any viewer that what was there or will be there is art—regardless of what will actually happen to the space. This context begs the question: Does the value of art lie in its presentation–the strategies we use to elevate art–or in the work itself?

As both an artist and a production technician, I found the experience of building a space to be very similar to the process of creating an artwork. If many artists are finding inspiration directly from what is in their studio, I wonder how important the hidden aspects of gallery norms influence an artist’s work.