Saturday, March 17, 2018

What were they thinking?

I was fortunate enough to visit the National Gallery of Australia's exhibition Indigenous Australia when I was in Berlin.

The exhibition was touted as masterworks from the NGA's extensive collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. And for me, it was certainly nice to see so many familiar works on display on the other side of the world.

But I was left wondering what the German audience would have thought of the show.

Oddly, there was not a single gallery label in sight. According to the lady at the front desk, "labels are no longer fashionable".

In my view, the NGA missed an extraordinary opportunity to educate the German audience about the spiritual, historical and political context behind the works.

Without any context, most audiences will just see a bunch of pretty painted canvases and barks, and a few odd-looking sculptures and video installations.


Victor said...

Labels may not be fashionable but they are very helpful to identify a work, its creator and some explanation about its creation. Maybe the Gallery provides alternative sources of information; audio and/or printed guides?

Adaptive Radiation said...

There was a sheet of paper with the artist and title details available at the door but no other explanation. The only other source of information was a video describing some of the artworks. An audio guide would have been a good idea.