Most modern artwork galleries have little in widespread with our properties. The artworks on show would possibly cope with quotidian topics, however exhibitions have a tendency to not seem like home settings. Their white partitions, harsh overhead lights, and quiet ambiance all level towards their obvious objective: to encourage the viewer to provide their full consideration to the artwork on present, to let it dominate their notion utterly. In the white-walled, “non-domestic” gallery, it’s simply you and the paintings. Such a communion between the exhibition and the viewer appears to require whole abstraction from the detritus of on a regular basis life. But what occurs when the gulf between dwelling and gallery is crossed? At first, seeing exhibitions incorporating dwelling furnishings nervous me; they appeared to dilute the distilled expertise I describe above, putting artworks alongside merchandise and turning galleries into retailers for luxurious items. But this fear is misguided. Furniture is a false flag that doesn’t reliably sign commercialism. In reality, an area that appears like dwelling can facilitate an embodied sort of engagement with artwork that the barren artwork galleries we’re used to don’t supply.
Orlando is the identify of one in all Virginia Woolf’s characters, a never-aging author and aesthete. Last yr, Pi Artworks in London staged a bunch exhibition titled An Ode to Orlando which imagined what their dwelling would possibly seem like in the event that they have been alive at present. Orlando can be the identify of a loveseat made by Ada Interiors, a luxurious inside design model whose furnishings was on present as a part of the exhibition. Being used to sparsely furnished non-domestic galleries, seeing the trimmings of a bourgeois dwelling life invading this exhibition felt jarring. It jogged my memory that the work and sculptures on present weren’t simply there for me to get pleasure from as a viewer; they have been additionally merchandise on the market. Like the chairs and tables that they shared the house with, they have been objects a part of the way in which by a journey that will finish in a transaction.
Galleries don’t simply present furnishings alongside artwork; generally furnishings is the artwork. For instance, David Zwirner’s website advertises divans, coat racks, and plastic chairs made by Franz West on the market with costs beginning at $12,000. The museums are at it too: Some time in the past, I overheard the Barbican’s blockbuster Noguchi retrospective known as “the IKEA exhibition” — presumably due to the numerous paper lampshades, now mass-produced by the Swedish furnishings large, on present. As in An Ode to Orlando, blurring the road between artwork and furnishings appears equal to blurring the road between a gallery and a store. It turns an area for delighting in artwork into one for searching for artwork. It appears that the non-domestic gallery’s objective is for viewers to have interaction with the work on present while the gallery-cum-furniture-showroom is for purchasers to make purchases.
But furnishings within the gallery is a false goal. Although it’d make me consider a cynical and industrial strategy to exhibition programming, it doesn’t represent it. The gallery that appears extra like a house will not be essentially extra responsible of commodifying the artwork that it reveals. The seller who turns their nostril up at together with furnishings in an exhibition is simply as doubtless to think about artworks — or extra worryingly, artists — as merchandise. Furthermore, I’m positive that if the proper collector supplied the proper sum of cash for one of many works they present, then they might be ushered right into a back-room to take a seat at a mid-century mahogany desk on a design-classic chair to jot down a cheque.
I imagine that we must always resist artworks being handled and transacted like merchandise, however perceive that furnishings within the gallery is essentially value-neutral. In reality, it could even be factor. People have been making the case towards galleries that try to transcend actual life for so long as they’ve existed. In his e book Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space (2000), Brian O’Doherty describes the non-domestic gallery as a spot the place “that odd piece of furniture, your own body, seems superfluous, an intrusion.” He makes level: To obtain the sort of communion I described earlier, one is anticipated to by some means depart behind one’s personal existence as a bodily physique, an expectation that appears unrealistic and deeply problematic.
At HOME, an aptly named multifunctional house in North London, this expectation is dropped utterly. In addition to operating a program of exhibitions, it presents a communal desk to work at, a small library of books and magazines to learn, and armchairs to take a seat and browse them on. There is commonly music taking part in and there’s a kitchen within the nook the place anybody is welcome to make themselves a cup of tea or use the microwave. Here, I really feel welcome to lounge, learn, pay attention, eat, drink and benefit from the artwork on show. Here, the physique will not be a superfluous intruder however a central a part of my expertise of the exhibition. Spaces like this verify to me that we shouldn’t be nervous in regards to the presence of dwelling furnishings in galleries. We have seen that it isn’t a dependable marker of a industrial perspective in direction of exhibiting artwork. When we perceive the transcendent, abstracted expertise that non-domestic galleries seem to supply as an unrealistic preferrred, the house discovering its approach into the gallery turns into a possibility to embrace a extra concrete and embodied approach of experiencing artwork.