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Thread: "Designing" an exhibition - advice needed

  1. #1

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    "Designing" an exhibition - advice needed

    One more question from me today.

    It looks like I will be able to make two (different) exhibitions in 2016. I am very happy about it and look forward to the work but I also have a couple of questions that I am thinking about.

    The first thing is - I think that usually "less is more" - what is generally speaking considered as smallest acceptable number of prints to be put on a show? Would, say, two dozen be OK?

    And more importantly - what is - again in general - the view on mixing two different processes in one exhibition - in my case I was thinking about kallitypes and normal silver gelatin prints or lith prints?

    Any ideas would be welcome.

    A.
    Website of sorts, as well as ipernity thing.

  2. #2
    IanG's Avatar
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    Re: "Designing" an exhibition - advice needed

    The number of prints depends on the venue and the way you want to use the space. 2 dozen seems OK.

    The second point is you, need to decide what you want ro do or say. Personally I wouldn't mix different processes, but again it depends on the work etc. One of the worst exhibitions I've seen was a mismatch of processes etc and the work lacked any coherency, Looked more like a Best set of B sides, and I'm not sure your talking about a greatest hits (prints) exhibition.

    Ian

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    Re: "Designing" an exhibition - advice needed

    Congratulations!
    This isn't much help but I think it would depend on the venue and the processes, and the processes themselves would be a challenge to present without becoming a distraction. It can be done (depending on the process & subject,) but I imagine it would be difficult and probably require a larger venue to provide a healing distance (does this make any sense? I'm only on my 2nd cup of coffee!)
    From my (viewer's) perspective, I like to come away feeling satisfied but not overwhelmed.
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  4. #4
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    Re: "Designing" an exhibition - advice needed

    This is a great question ... a great topic, really, and I don't think any of us is qualified to answer without seeing the work and talking to you at great length about your ideas.

    If there's anyone you trust you might find it invaluable to solicit their help with editing and sequencing and the use of the walls. I've been the beneficiary of a photographer friend who has a great eye for these things. He's helped my shows and my understanding of my work. A curator or editor would also be a good candidate. Or anyone with a good eye, who has some distance from the work (it's sometimes helpful just to have the perspective of someone who isn't you).

    Thinking very generally about your question, I've seen some effective shows that have fewer than 10 pieces, and a few that have had several hundred. The scale of the work has some bearing on this. Also the "density" or complexity. Some work is a kind of agglomeration of smaller pieces that aren't really much on their own ... they're meant to be taken in all at once as part of a suite. With this kind of work you can of course include many more images without exhausting people.

    And of course, just esthetically, it's helpful if the walls are neither too crowded nor too lonely.

  5. #5

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    Re: "Designing" an exhibition - advice needed

    Thank you all so far.
    I should have mentioned it straight away - we are talking about my series on (mostly) cistercian architecture, some images are on my website HERE. I would not put the kallitypes and the lith prints directly side by side myself, they would need to be separated but I feel they sort of complement each other.

    Anyway, I'll be visiting the venue some day soon (next week hopefully) so I'll be wiser then.

    Of course, there is also the option of making enlarged negatives of the MF negatives from which the lith prints were made and printing them as kallitypes, maybe I should try that route as well and see how the images work... (Although I recently realized that I am so much enamoured in lith printing that I am thinking about "how it would lith on that or other paper already when composing with smaller cameras.. Sillith me... )

    Paul, thank you for your valuable advice, I will try to find someone with a good eye and feeling for this who could help. Luckily, there is still more than a year worth of time so many things could be considered and tried (and hopefully at least one trip be made...
    Website of sorts, as well as ipernity thing.

  6. #6
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    Re: "Designing" an exhibition - advice needed

    I have been to an exhibit where B&W prints were on one wall and cyanotypes on another. It worked.

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    Re: "Designing" an exhibition - advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by jp View Post
    I have been to an exhibit where B&W prints were on one wall and cyanotypes on another. It worked.
    I think that would work best if it were two series, they could be related. Personally I print all the images in a series in the same way often re-printing the occasional image so that the when the series is sequenced it becomes more coherent, treating the series as the art rather than individual prints.

    I think Paulr's comments about talking to someone who's expertise/knowledge is particularly useful, particularly when it comes to editing and sequencing. It's something I did a lot in the past, it's very useful when working on large projects, but just as valid with smaller ones.

    Ian

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    Re: "Designing" an exhibition - advice needed

    Your site has your work sorted into themes. It works on the site, and something similar would certainly work for a show, grouping similar images. For 2 dozen prints, it feels to me that four groups might be your maximum, so that each group is sufficiently developed as a theme.

    Or, pick different grouping principles, such as tonality, similarity of form, subject, emotional core, or whatever you see that moves you when you spread prints out to select ones for the show. From what I see on your site, narrowing down will be painful! So much good stuff!

    Then, think about the sequence within each grouping. This is best done by laying out prints and moving them around as you explore how the images relate to each other. I always assume that most people will go from left to right, so I make sure that the first picture is a killer that will draw them in. Similarly, the last one should be a killer, too, since in my imagination that will be the one that they remember best (or be the one that draws them in if they're going right-to-left). So, with first and last chosen, you can play with the ones in-between to see what they are saying to you.

    Others' opinions are good, but it's your show. Try working through it yourself. I suspect you'll really have a lot of fun.
    Bruce Barlow
    author of "Finely Focused" and "Exercises in Photographic Composition"
    www.brucewbarlow.com

  9. #9

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    Re: "Designing" an exhibition - advice needed

    Your site has your work sorted into themes. It works on the site, and something similar would certainly work for a show, grouping similar images. For 2 dozen prints, it feels to me that four groups might be your maximum, so that each group is sufficiently developed as a theme.

    Or, pick different grouping principles, such as tonality, similarity of form, subject, emotional core, or whatever you see that moves you when you spread prints out to select ones for the show. From what I see on your site, narrowing down will be painful! So much good stuff!

    Then, think about the sequence within each grouping. This is best done by laying out prints and moving them around as you explore how the images relate to each other. I always assume that most people will go from left to right, so I make sure that the first picture is a killer that will draw them in. Similarly, the last one should be a killer, too, since in my imagination that will be the one that they remember best (or be the one that draws them in if they're going right-to-left). So, with first and last chosen, you can play with the ones in-between to see what they are saying to you.

    Others' opinions are good, but it's your show. Try working through it yourself. I suspect you'll really have a lot of fun.
    Bruce Barlow
    author of "Finely Focused" and "Exercises in Photographic Composition"
    www.brucewbarlow.com

  10. #10

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    Re: "Designing" an exhibition - advice needed

    Bruce, thank you for your very insightful response. Of course, the work and the final decision will be my own, but since this is going to be my first "serious" exhibition of a work that means a lot to me and in quite a good gallery so I was keen to hear how others approach this. Now I have some food for thought, I'll spend some more time in the darkroom and than with the prints...

    Thank you.
    Website of sorts, as well as ipernity thing.

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