This month’s image-maker residency features the research film Critical Focus: Study of an Arts Centre by Laura Harris. The 15-minute, two channel film is a mediation on the ‘backstage’ work of a visual art gallery, and the objects, skills, and atmospheres that surround art as it is presented for consumption. The film takes as its focus the two-week installation period of an exhibition at Bluecoat, Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts. This ‘install’ period is characterised by a set of processes usually hidden from public view to sustain the conventional ways in which art is made distinct from the everyday life surrounding the gallery – the aesthetic conventions of the contemporary gallery, for example, or the those around authorship which tend to obscure the contribution of gallery technicians. Choosing to linger in the sounds and sights of the install and the ‘private view’ (the opening event of the exhibition) the film nods to the ‘art worlds’ approach to the sociology of art while recognising the role that material surfaces play in how the art world is composed. The film resists a documentary style and borrows visual techniques from contemporary moving-image art to ‘evoke’ the lively contexts in which visual art is carefully positioned towards public consumption.
Throughout the month we will be posting on Instagram selected snippets from the film that speak to its key themes and show the development of the install, detailed through captions. The full film can be watched above (click on the image to play).