Show me tomorrow, we will go there is an exhibition without explanation or conventional curation. It does not have a goal or a direct vision to impart on the visitor. Instead, it is an evolving collection of projects, experiments and art pieces enveloped in one another. It is the accumulation of work by a group of artists who have taken residence at HISK’s postgraduate programme in Ghent for the last two years. The show is born out of a collaboration between these artists, curator of HISK Elena Sorokina, writer Natasha Soobramanien and Wilfried Huet, editor of Gagarin magazine. Conceptually cryptic and aiming to explore the space between physical exhibition and the page of publication, it promises to open a dialogue to willing participators. You can catch the show between Thursday and Monday from 22nd November till 16th December. Find out our five elaborations on the exhibition’s experiments, including everything from curation and collaboration to print and watercolour.
First and foremost, the unusual and innovative spaces of this exhibition make for an essential visit if you tire of the white cube gallery format. The conceptual framework of Show me tomorrow, we will go there is centred around two spaces – that of the exhibition and that of the publication. The physical space has previously been used for military barracks, medical services and as storage space for Design Museum Gent. Remnants of this history become a part of the exhibition itself, and left are shelves, sinks and loose tiles. Each artist has curated these residual objects to decide what inhabits the exhibition and what is left out. They have formed a sensitive and tactile relationship with the environment, honing in on its physicality and drawing attention to size, scale and texture. These ideas echo the exhibition’s binary concern between the shown and the hidden – where the word exhibit itself becomes a subjective curatorial decision. Since the space is separate from the artist’s studio space by only a wall, it truly embodies an uncanny sense of the other side of creation.
The second space of the exhibition is on the page. Accompanying the exhibition is a publication titled What beauty, what calm, I have seen the clouds and, far away, their faint shadows… The book is edited by Wilfried Huet, whose Gagarin magazine presented texts written by contemporary artists across the globe. The publication for the exhibition embodies the values and ethos of this magazine, and is born out of conversations between Huet and the artists featured in the show. The role of artist in this show is expanded to include writer.
Expect also your preconceptions about curation to be expanded and questioned. For the first time in the recent history of HISK, conventional modes of curating are reworked, since artist is curator. The show’s site is seen as a working format; an artwork and ground for experiment in its own right. In this way traditional moulds about how an exhibition should be curated and displayed are called into question and subsequently reworked. Part of this practise involved Natasha Soobramanien working with the artists in a writing workshop, where each person works to respond to poet Ariana Reines’ essay Sucking: A statement of poetics. Out of this event, each artist might reinterpret their works in progress. Where a curatorial approach might assume an autonomous curator(s) and an entirely finished and glossy exhibition, here this is absent, resulting in something truly collective and constantly in flux.
In a similar collaborative vein, the show presents a series of contemporary watercolours. Such an addition contributes to the exhibition’s idiosyncratic qualities, since this is a medium somewhat forgotten in contemporary artistic discourse. The pieces are inspired by Bernd Lohaus’ Blumen series, whose watercolours treat petals as abstract and aesthetic entities in their own right, utilising negative space to emphasise the tonal and bodily allusions possible in the medium. These images are created not only by the artists, but also by HISK’s exterior, artistic network of alumni, staff and acquaintances. Visitors of the exhibition can thus expect not only unusual found objects and an engagement with the space, but also new works on paper born out the spirit of collaboration, friendship and an art historical dialogue.
When you walk into this exhibition, do not expect to be spoon fed by annotations on the walls or by an informative and contextual piece of writing. Instead, the exhibition text, in keeping with the tone of the exhibition itself, refuses to be explanatory. It is a creative writing work that will not narrowly frame the viewer’s introduction to the art piece. Soobramanien is to an extent an artist working in the group show – her text functions as an artwork and a character in the space. It instructs us to Listen to cacophony and noise tells us that there is a wild beyond to the structures we inhabit and that inhabit us. It adds to the poetic and fictional thoughts present in the exhibition, aiming to be implicit in tone, rather than make explicit the show’s artworks. In this way, as a viewer you have to work to interpret the art itself; you are no longer a passive perceiver, but instead become a part of the semantics of the exhibition. More than anything this exhibition promises a depth of thought that has accumulated through extensive research and group dialogues, meaning that as a visitor of the show, you will be challenged and enlightened.