On not making an Exhibition

This week, some of my work is appearing in an exhibition at Manchester School of Art. That’s because I’m one of the curators, not because of any merit which my work might have.

The exhibition examines the theme of contested territories through a diverse range of artworks such as installations, video, illustrations, ID cards, tourist maps and photographs. Possible exhibition spaces themselves became contested territories and finding exhibition space turned out to be something of a chore. It became so difficult that at one point we thought we were going to be holding an exhibition in the street (not that this wouldn’t have been interesting).

The process became more and more frustrating and when Stephen, one of the artists involved, began to design posters for the exhibition, we still had no home. We’d been rejected from pretty much everywhere we’d tried to exhibit but Stephen used what could have been a negative and demotiving experience as the basis for a bold and striking design. You can’t invite people to an exhibition if you don’t know where it is, so we began to say that there would be no exhibition, to tell people to go away. By the time space was found, this idea of there being nothing to see, nothing to attend, had united us and given the exhibition a consistent and coherent theme.

I decided to put together a video advertising the exhibition. You can watch it, below, but bear in mind that you’re not invited, there’s nothing to see, you won’t want to come, and it’s not taking place.

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