I visited the Saatchi gallery yesterday as Karen particularly wanted to see the Mademoiselle Privé, exhibition – see here. It was billed as:
“a journey through the origins of CHANEL’s creations capturing the charismatic personality and irreverent spirit of Mademoiselle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld” (Saatchi Gallery, 2015)
I had assumed that the exhibits would be a rather mundane collection of haute couture but was very wrong.
This was a clever and thought provoking exhibition. After entering a rather lavish mirrored hallway the viewer is taken firstly through a conceptual floor that offers little in the sense of what Chanel creates and is left a little unsure of what to make of it at the end.
But then as one leaves this conceptual area and is presented with traditional exhibits of haute couture.
Then moves onto yet another floor. This time it is filled with innovative conceptual work that assaults the senses with lights changing colour, rooms, going dark, chests’ opening and perfumes being released.
Then on the last floor examples of work in progress are shown such as broaches and the creative work can be attempted by visitors.
So, by the end of the exhibit the different areas have come together make sense – new sense. Chanel’s philosophical approach and areas of expertise have been communicated to the viewer in a way that challenges the conventional thinking and understanding.
Here, the viewer is pushed to look, see and understand differently through the carefully constructed exhibits that present ideas of Chanel’s conceptual approach as well as their goods. Accordingly this is where the curation begins to make sense just as you are about to lose any sense of understanding the order of the exhibits anchor you.
Moreover the approach adopted used touch, smell, activity, and cinema as well as clothing exhibits and as such reminded me a lot of Lis Rhodes: Light Music where the viewer is almost disorientated in order to become reoriented to the subject matter.
A surprising visit that showed just how important curation is to any exhibit. This leads me onto my next point.
One of my colleagues who is completing an MA in Fine Art with the Open College of Arts posted about an interesting course some time ago. Behind the Scenes at the 21st Century Museum is a short online course run by the University of Leicester. It aims to address issues such as
How can we understand museums today? Who are museums for and why are they working to engage new audiences? How do we respond emotionally to museum objects and spaces? And how can museums play a role in the pursuit of social justice, human rights, or health and wellbeing?
The commitment is only two hours per week over six weeks beginning on January 18th 2016 and I hope it will help me begin to move my work emphasis to one from research, development and practice to one of reflection and presentation. We will see. For those interested here is the link.