Sunday, March 24, 2013

Rethinking art gallery didactics—“Project Projects: Test Fit” exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago

An installation shot of Project Projects: Test Fit exhibition at the AIC.

From a curatorial standpoint it has been suggested that reading the didactics (or wall labels), which ubiquitously accompany the artworks in the gallery, may prevent viewers from actually “seeing” at the artwork. In a sense this seems to be the interesting design premise for Project Projects: Test Fit experimental installation on view at the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing until April 28, 2013 in Gallery 286.

The following copy is taken from the AIC’s public relations department:

The exhibition includes nearly 40 printed facsimiles of works in the Art Institute’s permanent collection that reflect Project Projects’ broad interest in the history of design practice. 
Project Projects: Test Fit—commissioned as part of an Art Institute of Chicago series in which architects and designers are invited to explore their own interests and instigate new thinking and practices within and beyond their professional disciplines—is envisioned as a model for an exhibition that could serve as a framework for addressing issues of representation and reproductions in playful, yet critical ways. Project Projects, a New York–based graphic design firm led by Prem Krishnamurthy, Adam Michaels, and Rob Giampietro, has become known for developing publications, exhibitions, and identities for a range of cultural institutions and educational organizations, as well as for creating self-initiated curatorial and research projects.

On display are grayscale facsimiles such as this piece by László Moholy-Nagy entitled Nuclear I, CH.
For Test Fit, Project Projects carefully selected works from the Art Institute’s permanent collection that reflect the concerns of its partners. The studio began with an interest in European modernism, namely its Chicago-based practitioners László Moholy-Nagy and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, but then expanded the scope of the exhibition to indicate a broader sweep of design practice from Louis Sullivan to Bertrand Goldberg and beyond.

Project Projects has also included an unexpected dimension to a mainstay of museum exhibitions—the wall label (shown above)—by including statements such as “This is a building that’s clear and open, at least in appearance” and posing questions to visitors such as “Why are you standing still?” and “Why do the forms appeal to you?” 
Project Projects: Test Fit not only presents an innovative exploration of the Art Institute’s acclaimed permanent collection, but also encourages viewers to consider the exhibition as a mode of creative and cultural expression in and of itself.  The exhibition is organized by the Art Institute of Chicago and curated by Zoë Ryan, Chair and John H. Bryan Curator of Architecture and Design. (1)
  1. Hogan, Erin, and Chai Lee. News Release: “The Art Institute’s Architecture and Design Department Collaborates with New York Based Graphic Design Firm Project Projects.” Department of Public Affairs—The Art Institute of Chicago. 6 Dec. 2012. Web. 17 Mar. 2013.

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