Attention is neither monopolized nor homogenized. The exhibition is a very democratic and liberal ritual where the viewer decides the duration of his or her stay. There are, however, limits to the ritual of the exhibition.
If one looks at curatorial history, there are figures like Diaghilev, who invented his own way of doing this. He curated painting shows in the early 20th Century in Russian museums that would then tour through Europe. And then at a certain moment he felt that it was too limiting and too narrow; he wanted to go into other disciplines. But where could he go? He had to invent his own structure, which became the Ballets Russes. The Ballets Russes was like a migrating troupe, touring from city to city. And he collaborated with the greatest composers of his time like Stravinsky, and artists like Picasso. And his idea was that it would be a construct where he could pool all the knowledge and bring all the great practitioners of his time together to produce the ballet.
I think about exhibitions in a similar way. The exhibition is a great opportunity to bring it all together because it’s an experimental form; it’s not like a feature film, which has a prescribed duration. A film needs to be more or less 90 minutes; it’s difficult for the cinemas if it’s only 10 minutes or it’s 12 hours. Obviously, there are experiments where filmmakers break that form, but the exhibition has this amazing advantage: that it’s a ritual, it’s extremely public. There isn’t a prescribed time when people can visit it, or a prescribed length to their visit. They can visit it for a minute or for five hours or ten hours. There isn’t the sense that one has to visit it in a group; it can very often be a one-to-one experience. But still, it’s a one-to-one experience for millions of people. Within this sort of 21st Century ritual, the exhibition, there’s a great opportunity to bring all the disciplines together.
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