Exhibitions & Programming: Utilizing space in non-conventional methods
As we wrap up our Open Call for 2017, exhibitions plotted on a calendar and studio visits scheduled, we look forward to a robust year of programming featuring artists, performers and cultural workers spanning across many disciplines. This year, our call specifically emphasized proposals that were from people of color, low-income individuals, immigrants, sex workers, folks living in rural areas, Muslims, youth, people with disabilities, women, GNC and LGBTQIA+ people, as direct action against the results of the election and current administration.
Our Open Call process consists of gathering proposals over a two month period and then distributing them to a Review Collective, a 8-12 person panel, consisting of past artists who have exhibited at Front/Space. We see this as a way to create a platform that is driven not by the vision of two co-directors, but a way to generate input from those who have experience with the space, understand our audience and can envision the project coming to fruition in the small but mighty project space. We are still exploring methods of inclusion in this process and understand there are still biases that exist in choosing the work, however, as one of the only remaining DIY spaces in the Crossroads Arts District, it is a way to keep Front/Space community driven. Once the proposals are chosen, my collaborator Kendell Harbin and I, schedule the exhibitions and work on the logistics. We strive to create autonomy and confidence in each individual’s process, guide artists in directions not fully explored, create access to new partnerships and audiences. This assistance can span from installation and hardware consultation, material collection, sponsorship solicitation and/or conceptual actualization.
Front/Space has been long identified as a place for experimentation and risk taking. Due to the unusual architecture of the space, many individuals respond with site-specific work or work that is not quite fully realized that can be best executed in a non-traditional gallery context. One of the greatest defining features of Front/Space are the windows, which creates many unique relationships between inside and outside viewers during openings or performances. Many artists use the windows as part of the work utilizing projection screens, painting, or even harnessing the power of the sun.
Often the scope of projects proposed go beyond the size of the space and some artists choose to use Front/Space as a launching point to other locations in Kansas City. As exemplified through Rail Sail and Floodplain Buyout (see below), Front/Space was utilized as a type of “visitor center” or a gathering place to then be transported to the site where the physical manifestation of the project would take place.
As we look forward to the next round of exhibitions, I want to reflect on a some of the exhibitions that showcase what we strive for in a proposal. This way, to someone who has never visited Front/Space, can understand the spectrum of experimentation that happens in this small storefront. For more examples of past exhibitions please visit frontspace.info
The Social Forms of Art (SoFA) Journal is a bi-annual publication dedicated to supporting, documenting, and contextualizing socially engaged art and its related fields and disciplines. Each issue of the Journal focuses on a different theme in order to take a deep look at the ways in which artists are engaging with communities, institutions, and the public. The Journal seeks to support writing and web based projects that offer documentation, critique, commentary and context for a field that is active and expanding.
The SoFA Journal is published in print and PDF form twice a year, in June and December by the PSU Art & Social Practice Program. In addition to the print publication, the Journal hosts an online platform for ongoing projects.
Sponsored by the Portland State University Art and Social Practice MFA Program