Culture Clash | Integrity of the gallery | Duty of care

Duty of care

We touched earlier upon the distance between the gallery and some of its visitors, and how this can often seem like a gulf; yet perhaps the real gulf lies between the artist and the viewer, with the role of the gallery being to negotiate this distance. If we view the relationship this way then we see that the gallery is an intermediate, and has a duty of care to both of the parties that it serves.

So whilst it may be a consideration for some artists, we can be sure that it is not their task to concede to the viewer – indeed, to expect concessions from artists is to trespass upon the spirit of art itself. Is this, then, where the gallery comes in, lying as it does between artist and viewer?

We can see the role of the gallery as facilitating the experience that the artist provides, allowing it to be communicated to the viewer in a manner that is true to the intentions of the artist, or the demands of the work. So, whilst the integrity of the artist is something that should be protected, what can we say about the integrity of the gallery?

If concessions are to be made anywhere within this relationship – artist, gallery, viewer – then should they not start at the place where least is at stake, and where they can be made most easily? We’ve looked at reasons why a visitor may find the gallery experience extremely difficult, involving as it does a potential challenge to the intellect as well as to a variety of intrapersonal factors; and we can take it as a given that the artist should not be burdened with a duty of care to his audience. In light of this, we could consider the gallery as the most flexible of the trio, and as standing to lose the least. If we decide that more needs to be done to facilitate engagement, then, in its duty of care to both viewer and artist, we would not be blamed in looking to the gallery to lead the way.

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