Culture Clash | Introduction

When the contemporary art gallery fails to be engaging


This text is a disquisition on some of the problems that face the contemporary art gallery. It is interested in the relationship between the gallery and its visitors; in particular those visitors who fail to engage with the experiences that the gallery offers.

It is motivated by a concern that many visitors are unable to engage, and intends to explore why this might be. It will consider what, if anything, the gallery can do to increase engagement, and reflect on the implications of any potential remedies.

In examining the problems that visitors have in engaging, it may also be useful to look at the conventions of the contemporary art gallery, with a view to identifying mindless and un-useful assumptions.

To reiterate; our concern is the visitor who, for whatever reason, is unable or unwilling to engage with the experiences that the gallery offers.

This text does not believe that a sea change in attitudes is possible, but it believes that small and incremental change is. It believes increasing the odds of engagement, not in revolutionizing the statistics.

It is based upon one person’s experience working as a gallery attendant in a single contemporary art gallery, and as such it does not aspire to provide a comprehensive overview of the areas that it explores. It has been written in the spirit of exploration and hopes to, at best, provoke further debate about ideas it considers to be interesting and relevant.

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