Today, art seldom equals a painting on the wall like a window to another reality. The reality of art is often the same as that of the viewer. We exist in the same world, in direct contact with art, often as part of both its physical and conceptual space. This experience is closely related to fundamental philosophical ideas of a human being´s relationship to the surrounding world. If the modernist idea of aesthetic experience had its origin in the Cartesian division of body and mind and was based on the primary importance of the eye and reason, we are today more influenced by ideas, founded on phenomenology, of experiencing through the body and feelings. Experiences are not limited to the eye and reason; rather, the surrounding world begins at the surface of the skin, it is encountered directly, and interaction with it is also physical in nature.
During the past two centuries an exhibition has been the most common way of displaying art to a wide public. The tradition of displaying - an exhibition - has undergone several changes during the past century and the last 30 years in particular. Exhibitions have provided people with an idea of what art looks like at a particular moment. What the public has been shown has largely directed the concept and conception of art. According to modernist ideals, the setting for art has developed into a white cube, a space which attempts to exclude everything but the artwork itself. The white cube bears a resemblance to a church, a courtroom, and a laboratory. Its architectural solutions and the modernist idea of the purity of art have directed the behaviour of the public and affected our understanding of aesthetic experience.
Artists have long been conscious of the importance of the display and exhibition as a form and responded with a love-hate relationship to the white cube. The boom of installation art during the past 20 years can be traced as far back as in the 1920s. Researchers connect the emphasis on space to pre-Renaissance times. Spatial requirements having been included in art, the making of art has been taken to deserts as well as urban spaces, and further, towards fiction, virtual reality, and ´cyberspace´.
The spectrum of exhibitions has thus widened considerably and the form developed into a varied medium, the source of communication and experiences. The scope of the contents of modern exhibitions is wide. Exhibitions may be based on thematic thinking, a deeper analysis, or the presentation of a process. A formal array is difficult to categorise systematically; an exhibition often functions in the junction where sculptural and architectural worlds and the world of setting meet. At the same time, various aspects intertwine, depending on the scope of the total issue, the relationships between the works and architecture, and the interaction of other spatial and conceptual elements. An exhibition is also connected to other ways of organising space, forms, proportions, colours, and materials, the differences between interiors and exteriors. This also takes place at other forums for displaying fiction, in public and social common spaces, and in our relationship to nature. Culturally speaking, exhibition media also form a part of the ´visibility culture´ whose key words are display and exhibition.
Temporary exhibitions in Kiasma
Art has many faces, the public many expectations. There are no standardised methods for planning an exhibition, no settled quality criteria, no ready-made solutions, nor any ways to guarantee success. The task is exciting, challenging, and difficult. It requires close cooperation with the artists and other people working with art. Every choice is connected to a wide selection and to this present time, with networking and cooperation constituting an important basis for the work. The new building will provide us with an opportunity to show the public attempts at deeper analyses, and simultaneously to respond to a variety of phenomena, to be involved in a constant dynamic with the diversity of art and time.
In Kiasma, we shall base our exhibitions not only on our attitude towards the tradition of visual display in the museum as an institution (´show and tell´), but also on the setting provided by the building. Architecture is one factor which strongly influences an exhibition, but the nature of the artworks, the ideas of the artists, and the insight of the curator function together as a whole. Art takes possession of space, significant conditions, phenomena, and processes, and reacts to them in its own unique way. The outcome is also shaped by other technical requirements and, naturally, financial resources.
Plans for an exhibition always resemble the people who drafted them. Kiasma´s programme includes parallel units which make it possible to compare both art phenomena and solutions to displaying them. The plans move in space as well as time, with certain rhythms being based on certain spaces. The dramaturgical totality of Kiasma´s exhibitions lives together with the viewer. The experience is in the hand of the viewer.
Beck, Ingamaj & Lynge, Claus (red.): Det andra rummet, en nordisk antologi om scenografisk konst, 1997
Bennett, Tony: The Birth of the Museum, 1995
Cooke, Lynne & Wollen, Peter (ed.): Visual Display, Culture Beyond Appearances, 1995
De Oliveira, N, Oxley, N, Petry, M (ed.): Installation Art, 1994
O´Doherty, Brian: Inside the White Cube, The Ideology of the Gallery Space, 1986
Persson, Eva: Utställningsform, 1994
Serota, Nicholas: Experience or Interpretation, The Dilemma of Museums of Modern Art, 1996
Wallenstein, Sven-Olof: TheSite of the Work of Art, MLN, 1994