Culture Clash | Integrity of the gallery

Integrity of the gallery


It is worth considering whether it is in the best interests of the gallery to concede to the visitor in the ways that we have looked at. The integrity of the gallery and the experiences that it offers are important considerations, as is the integrity and value of the idea of ‘art’ itself. For a gallery to move too far towards the uncomprehending visitor - for the gallery to stoop too low to make itself understood - might be to compromise the experiences that it offers. We are concerned with finding the line between catering to the highest and lowest denominators, and to find how far toward the latter this line can go whilst still resembling its original shape.

It can often seem as if there is a gulf between the gallery and its visitors; the gallery on one side offers experiences that it believes to be of value, whilst, on the other side, a large majority of visitors are unable to engage with these experiences. This inability to engage is down to some of the factors that we have touched upon: poor education, rigid mindsets (sticking to known paradigms), the negative influence of media and fear of the unknown.

Should it be the responsibility of the gallery to help the visitor overcome these factors, many of which are intrapersonal and potentially deeply buried? What concessions does the gallery currently offer to help with this?

Related posts:-
Culture Clash | Integrity of the gallery | Gallery attendants


  1. This is where art education and the Galleries Learning Department comes in to try and bridge this gap. Through my experience as a gallery assistant and an artist who works in art education, simple family workshops which BALTIC puts on every weekend can allow for an introduction into contemporary art and for involvement. This then allows for a base to work on to possibly introduce/develop more complex ideas.

    Through my experience, though, (and looking at social/class issues) most of the families who do get involved are middle class. How do you overcome this reluctance by working class people to engage (of course this is a generalisation)? Put artists in poor areas?

  2. Perhaps you show them that the experiences that they already engage in are actually 'art'. Perhaps you call football 'art'. Or maybe you stop calling anything art and start blurring the boundaries between various experiences.

    Maybe we need to attribute more value to the experiences that they already indulge in, or show the links between those experiences and experiences that we may consider 'cultural'.

    Two gangs of hoodlums fighting is many things other than what it appears to be on the surface. It is bonding, affection, closeness - they are having fundamental feelings affirmed; many positives can come from it.

    A bike ride that, ostensively, has a crime as its purpose or endpoint, could be closely linked with the idea of the dérive. A person may not even realise that what they actually value isn't the crime, but is the game that surrounds it; the experience of wandering, of adventuring.

    Perhaps they need to see how they are already using certain ideas - their ideas - before they begin to engage, and see parallels, with 'establishment' ideas.

    I realise I have linked the idea of working class with crime, which I didn't mean to do; but I hope my point can be understood.

  3. Perhaps its like when you read psychology or philosophy and realise that these ideas are all already within you; are a part of you.

    Perhaps the important thing is showing that cultural experience is a part of being human, not something invented by others for others.