6 - 9 December, 2019
Emergency was a project conceived to engage with a social cause as a respond to the constantly distressing us global crises of cultural and social matters. With the tendency to gather together individuals who share common understanding about social responsibility, it was planned as the first of series of events aiming to raise awareness of different global issues. It was framed and curated as a group exhibition of artists with different background and practices, who were selected to create an artwork reflecting on a critical theme of the discussion.
‘Emergency is a collective Fine art exhibition unified by themes which define the dramatic and uncertain conditions besetting our society. We wish to express our individual attitudes to and beliefs about these vexing issues and play our part in resolving them. Our hope is that, through art, we may help crystallize popular support for tackling injustice and exposing foolhardy policies.’
Eighteen artists from the MFA Fine Art at Wimbledon College of Arts were asked to create artworks that explore an area of particular concern to them. These include Environment, Poverty, Inequality, and Conflict. The exposition included artworks in many different media such as painting, sculpture, video, and installation, as well as VR and a participatory projects at the night of the Private view. The Private View was visited by a large number of people, approximately 60 of them took part in Hamish Pringle's project leaving their signature in green or blue to fill in the land and sea fields of the outlined world map and 'restore' the environment.
Emergency Art is the first collective exhibition I organized and curated with the outstanding assistance of the artist Helen Dear.
To outline, schedule, promote, and realize a public project on your own, takes, I clearly understood, a great amount of audacity and foolhardiness. In spite of the hard work, anxiety, obstacles, and concerns, it is though hugely rewarding and fruitful. The greatest lesson I have learnt from this 'adventure' is that whatever you strive for and you are trying to achieve, you do depend on people. Therefore, you must be tolerant, loyal, objective, and diplomatic, and to cherish the relationships you create with people on the way.
The idea for the exhibition was thriving during a period of a few months before the event to take place, but it was still vague and unconceptualized until the negotiations about the venue hire finally ended - about two months before the opening. The central location of Platform Southwark with its easy access, and a fairly good communication with the manager of the Gallery were key to maintain all arrangements as strict as possible and to facilitate the curation of the show.
However, it was a massive amount of work, practical and administrative, and I can say that you need to have a plan, a good one, and you need to have a schedule and to follow it regardless of time availability, energy, probability, and chance.
The whole process started with outlining the crucial key points which needed to be covered - a timeline, a deadline for each participating project to be announced and completed, all sources of social media presentation.
It did not go without any hazardous move - Helen and myself were supposed to visit the venue several times, inform the participants about the space they will be given, and designate a spot for each piece. Which we did - without having any idea of how those magnificent art works looked like!
I honestly believe that it is based on experience and knowledge better that any idea of luck or chance, but having a just slight information about each project's concept and overall content we made only two or three changes at the installation day and all pieces worked surprisingly well with each other and in consonance.
As a curator, I can conclude that one of the most important strategies in organizing a show is to start on time!
During Emergency I can say I gained and tested a whole trajectory of skills - negotiation, public relationships, time-management, coordination, transportation, installation, and last but definitely not the least - communication, both formal and informal according to the situation and demands, which often appears to be a crucial part of the successful outcome of professional relationships.
Emergency was a very educating and transformative experience for me.
I also understood that working with friends is a tricky field. Sometimes, unintentionally, responsibilities are blurred and it might affect the whole process, thus, making it disappointing for both sides.
Doubts and anxiety should not stay as obstacles, whatever the results are, especially in the beginning, it is all learning and fulfilling process.
After the first show I curated independently, I feel prepared to begin and complete the next challenge.