20 - 26 September 2020
Click for exhibition website - Curated as part of my curatorial residency with The AntiMA Brighton
Shifting Boundaries is conceived as an online meeting space where we explore what it means to trust and step out of one’s threshold. Conceptualised during our necessary time apart, this gathering point coordinates our return to one another and to shared spaces. Acknowledging the importance of trust and acts of care-taking at a time of difficulty and uncertainty, the exhibition and programmes consider the role artists can play in developing ideas of togetherness through collaboration and stretching comfort zones.
Shifting Boundaries presented an exhibition with interactive features, workshops, a resource library and Curations. The exhibition displayed the variety of artist practices and skills from The AntiMA. Works on display manifest acts of care-taking through the handling of different materials, and the commitment towards uncovering possibilities of living and relating even through precarious times. In 'Curations', audience could curate featured works by the exhibiting artists and share their thoughts behind the curations. Through this process, we hoped to establish a reverse dialogue where artists can learn from the public and consider how these ideas could contribute to the development of their artistic practice. There was also a resource library where the AntiMA and its audience can share materials with one another, which is now a permanent part of the collective, aimed for anyone who is interested in academia but does not have access to the resources.
Summary of Curatorial Residency and Process
As the AntiMA is a peer lead, collaborative arts education programme by a group of artists, the residency presented me an opportunity to test the concept of ‘paracuratorial’ with little to no confines of an art institution. Coined by curator Paul O’Neill, the 'paracuratorial' refers to a constellation of activities inclusive of the exhibition form itself, serving as a method for collecting, assembling and producing knowledge. Having previously executed this concept in - Objectivity: a constellation of ideas, objects and people - an exhibition held last January at Chelsea College of Arts with a group of my colleagues, I was interested in how this processual methodology could unfold on a digital space where several issues are presented. We describe the internet as ‘more accessible’ but does that warrant the participation and engagement of audiences? How do we make exhibitions engaging without it being merely a delivery of information? I persisted with this challenge, realising that at this social distancing age when we are compelled to be heavily reliant on technological platforms, this so called accessibility ends up becoming noise because of the information overload.
With this, I took time to properly reflect at the terms ‘curating’, ‘exhibition-making’ and ‘curatorial’, rethinking exhibition formats at the same time. I came into the AntiMA with a rough proposal and completely revamped it, so I would say my process started with art rather than theories or arguments that entered at a later stage. Having said that, I maintained my tendency challenge the status quo, not for its own sake but because the current conditions are often problematic or insufficient.
Over my curatorial residency, I met the artists over Zoom where we have informal group crits and chats about their personal lives, work and exhibition development. We also discussed theoretical texts, rethinking our roles as art practitioners and publics. Through this process, I came to comprehend the various objectives and aspirations they wish to achieve from joining the collective; learning more from artists and people, exhibiting work without institutional constraints and so on. Upon these conversations was when I truly grasped the meaning of sharing as resistance, as I ponder about our uncertain future and ask myself daily: could we ever properly be a community again with the social distancing rules? Are all of us still willing to share, love and care for one another after the pandemic is over, at a time when we don’t need to? Thinking about it petrified me. From there, I was never more confident that it is this time that we have to step out of our comfort zones and the certain boundaries we place ourselves in.
From the chats and support for one another in developing this exhibition, I did a drawing exercise with the artists, to think about trust, perception and collaboration. Some of us described the textures of objects blindfolded, providing guidance for others to draw it. Some drawings were similar, some weren’t and it was meaningful to witness the surprising results we could get from stepping past that threshold into someone else’s space.