The self-produced exhibition: pros and cons for artists


    So many advantages, but so many obstacles: the self-produced exhibition can represent a turning point for the career of an artist, provided that…

    Often galleries, foundations and museums are not able to accommodate the great demand for collaboration and exhibition coming from artists, especially emerging ones who just at the beginning, want to have the opportunity to show their artistic research and be part of the art system.

    There are those who face the search for an exhibition space without method, others relying on collaborations with art curators, while others choose to self-produce the exhibition, as a solo or group show with the participation of other artists.

    In fact, the art scene is not lacking in the so-called self-produced exhibitions by artists, who choose to exhibit a selection of their works in unconventional spaces or in their ateliers.

    The practice is not entirely new, but on the contrary one of the first to do so was the metaphysical artist Giorgio De Chirico, who in the early 1900s set up a small exhibition in his studio, attracting the attention of the great critic Apollinaire.

    In Milan, on the other hand, there is the second edition of Walk-In Studio, a festival of spaces and artists’ studios to be held from 20 to 24 October 2020, thanks to which the city’s artists will open their studios and experimental spaces to organize exhibitions and events.

    Today the possibilities of exhibition are increasingly diversified and not always linked to prestigious galleries or institutions, just think of the possibilities given by technology and social networks, tools that allow artists to emerge if supported by a digital strategy and promote their activity together with new ways of exhibition in virtual places.

    But regardless of the exhibition space self-produced by the artist, in its physical or virtual mode, there will be pros and cons to be faced before the development of the project.

    Let’s see some pros:

    • The artist is free to choose the location that best suits his production: strategic if chosen in terms of location, trend and importance, because it can ensure a better enjoyment of the works and increase the curiosity and interest of the public, including collectors and gallery owners;
    • For the artist it is possible to expose the production he most desires to a wider target of enthusiasts, not only insiders.
    • The exhibition can enjoy greater accessibility due to the absence of an entrance ticket and the choice of an unconventional space for art but very well known by most people.
    • The possibility to diversify the promotion of the event by exploiting channels that are also different from those closely related to the art world, for example, non-art magazines, TV and local press.

    Many pros, however, correspond to many cons how:

    • Exposure to criticism from professionals in the sector who, as such, do not recognize the cultural value of a self-produced exhibition because it is not supported by operators accredited by the system;
    • Not maintaining a high standard in all phases of the organization of the exhibition: from the production to the setting up, from the promotion to the reception of the public;
    • The absence or lack of value of a critical apparatus not recognized by professionals in the sector that does not legitimize and protect the value of the artist and his production.

    Choosing whether or not to produce your own exhibition will still involve risks of which it is good to be aware, but at the same time if well designed in all its phases, it could turn into a turning point for your career.

    And you’re ready to produce your own show?


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