From museums and galleries to theatres and concert venues, it is an unavoidable fact that some of the most affecting experiences of art often result from a process of exchange – primarily, an exchange of knowledge. But the Covid-19 pandemic has posed a peculiar challenge to art institutions around the world and challenged their efforts to remain active after the closure of their venues. Many strategies were adopted by institutions and steps taken by individuals in an effort to “preserve” the communities they have been building for years. Technology has played a crucial role in keeping society functional in a time of lockdowns, and this may have a long-lasting impact. Yet something else is even more important than getting one’s culture-fix without leaving home. Something that may help people cope with dark times. It has to do with self-reflection. Not just on the level of individual processes that we all have gone through, but more on a communal level, of reflection on the communities that we are part of and the use of time in isolation to learn to be more connected to each other.
Commercial art galleries are professionally-run businesses that derive their profits from the sale of artworks, which is usually based on the gallery’s strategy regarding a particular artist or artwork, in the context of an exhibition, art fair, art collection, media coverage, publishing activity, etc. Although the gallery serves as a small community comprised of artists, gallerists, curators, collectors and other audiences engaged with art, the exchange between these groups can sometimes seem superficial and limited. That was the starting point for this exhibition, which tries to rethink the commercial gallery as a community and to challenge its programme. Not from the perspective of the gallerist, curator or collector, but from that of the artists themselves, who represent the core and the most important part of the community.
Titled The Domino Effect, the exhibition is the result of an interesting experiment, which gradually selected the artworks through choices made by the artists. A simple structure was applied: every artist in the gallery programme was invited to nominate one work from the following artist, in an alphabetical order. The idea was not to create a mechanism that linked the exhibited artworks, but to stimulate exchanges and connections between artists, knowing that such connections tend to be made solely by galleries, based on their strategies. So the exhibition takes a challenging moment as its starting point and proposes a transformation both in terms of content and of structure. This is symbolically suggested by the title The Domino Effect, which implies that a change in one’s behaviour activates a chain reaction and causes a shift in related behaviour as well. In other words, the exhibition dismisses the framework of a classic thematic presentation by rejecting a dominant theme and calling for a break, with the aim of self-reflection and of questioning possible antagonisms. Its rhizomatic structure, lacking the established display mechanisms and strategies used by an art gallery, functions as an entity that produces its own core. The Domino Effect focuses on the variety of relations between the gallery’s artists – an assemblage that does not generate a shared conceptual ground, but instead exists as an ongoing flow that triggers potential relations between artworks.
Text by Tevž Logar, curator