Culture Clash | Uses of language | Breathing space

Breathing space

One way to get around this transfixion on language would be to change the words that we use. If people were expecting to see art because they are in an art gallery, then what would happen if we no longer called it an art gallery? Is there another word we can use, one that would allow all of the experiences within the gallery to exist without the danger of them being compared unfavourably to a pre-existing paradigm?

A gallery may not be able to allow every visitor engage with the experiences that it offers, but is it not worth considering tactics that would increase the odds of this happening? A change in language could be one such tactic. If the term ‘art’ has become a hindrance to the experiences within the gallery, then is it worth considering an alternative that may allow more breathing space, both for the work and the visitors?

A name like ‘Experience Centre’ may be approaching something more suitable. The amorphousness of the name would be a clue – a prime – as to how a visitor is to approach what awaits inside. They aren’t here to see art, although they may apprehend things that they wish to label as such. Rather, they are here to have experiences.

What are the benefits of this name change? Primarily, the visitor would no longer be looking for ‘art’. The question “is this art?” – a question that so often stops an experience before it can even begin – would become redundant. The nearest question available – the nearest defence against experience – would now be “is this an experience?” The use of a capacious term like this would allow for the breadth of experiences that the modern art gallery offers; the language would better prepare the visitor, and experiential expectations may have less of a chance of hindering experience itself. A term like this could work in the gallery’s favour, not against it.

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