The lights are on in the gallery but nobody is there.
There are too many art spaces in Melbourne. I have raised this issue before (Rental Space Debate) and discussed how the quality of exhibitions suffers because exhibition spaces, especially the rental spaces, will accept any submission. I did not consider how many people visit galleries compared to the exhibition spaces.
When I go around looking at galleries I am often the only person in the gallery, apart from the person sitting the gallery. For anyone gallery sitting at an artist run initiative or rental gallery space it is apparent that there are not a lot of people visiting galleries – there were days when nobody visited 69 Smith St. or Brunswick Arts. Sure there are often hundreds of people at the opening but they are only there for event and the wine, some don’t even look at the art.
And there are still more galleries opening in Melbourne, about nine this year. This is not good for the artist or Melbourne’s arts as it reduces the number of visitors to the exhibition and dilutes the impact of any good exhibition. If only there was a similar growth in the total visitors, in art magazines or critical reviews of exhibitions then the situation might not be so unbalanced.
I started this blog because too few exhibitions in Melbourne are reviewed. There are so many galleries that I haven’t been able to visit all of them in two years. I can’t hope to review all of them – I can’t even hope to have seen the same exhibitions as anyone else. I am pleased to note that there is another blogger, Ace Wagstaff writing reviews of Melbourne’s art run initiatives (ARI) and other art exhibitions: Dead Hare. So far Wagstaff and I have both written entries about the censorship of Trevor Finn and Cecilia Fogelberg’s exhibition at Platform. I hope that we write more entries on the same exhibitions, so that there is more than just one view to consider.
Lack of visitor numbers, sales or critical reviews do not matter to rental space galleries, including many of the ARI, as their only concern is bookings. These galleries are dishonest in not disclosing to artists booking the space the average number of visitor for a normal week.