Critical Performative Pedagogies in Art & Design Education
Edited By Lee Campbell
Chapter Twelve: Harnessing the Power of the White Cube: The Contemporary Art Gallery as a Liminal Space for Multisensory Learning
Harnessing the Power of the White Cube: The Contemporary Art Gallery as a Liminal Space for Multisensory Learning
What do disruptions, interventions and liminalities look like in the context of the contemporary art gallery? How do we encounter art? Many artists and educators are no doubt aware of the long tradition of artists disrupting gallery space in the twentieth century, dating as far back as Marcel Duchamp’s 1,200 Bags of Coal suspended from the ceiling of the International Exhibition of Surrealism at the Galerie Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1938 and his subsequent Mile of String that obstructed visitors to the 1942 First Papers of Surrealism show in New York (O’Doherty, 1986). Within current practice, how are artists using this contested space? What evidence is there for provocations, disruptions and challenges to the viewer/participant, or even hostility to the audience?
This chapter explores examples from recent exhibitions and explores how contemporary work has ‘stepped outside the frame … and made the gallery space itself the primary material to be altered by art’ (O’Doherty, 1986: 10). In these examples, we experience the context as content, but this is combined with an acute sense of the emotional and psychological power of cultural objects when combined with new retellings of cultural history. This chapter explores how these approaches can be usefully translated into the classroom to provoke and challenge the learner and disrupt the status quo.
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