2016 Independent art fair_Thursday

Art fairs, exhibitions under the microscope

At The Gallery
With the commercial appeal of biennales being highly attractive, there is great need to evaluate the format of exhibitions and art fairs.

In a year after the Venice Biennale and the second ever International Conference on African Cultures; which featured a fringe art fair component, the dynamics of the annual exhibition comes under intense inspection.

First and foremost, the definition of an annual exhibition is crucial to understand the dynamics between it and other forms of exhibition. Noteworthy is the fact that most annual exhibitions are open, that is to say, they may draw participation from artists of all techniques.

Annual exhibitions do not focus on a single medium and can traverse the visual art and performative art border, with new media techniques such as installations and digital graphics being included in such shows. At times, annual exhibitions can be guided by a call for participation that is conceived by a curator. The curator usually comes up with a theme that the artists respond to.

The curatorial theme in previous National Gallery of Zimbabwe’s annual art exhibitions in recent years have changed, for example; “Mharidzo” in 2016 and “Form and Colour” in 2017. Artists responded to these themes with works across various technique and media, which showed the viewer the means artists were able to manipulate the different types of media they could manipulate.

There is usually no limit to the number of media an artist uses to create their body of work, which is testament to the openness of the annual exhibition concept.

With regards to biennial or biennales; these exhibitions are set on a much grander scale, with a much more meticulous level of planning. Biennales are more often curated as opposed to annual exhibitions. They take place on a global scale and with that, the openness aspect of these events is reasonably and justifiably minimal as the expression to show the best artworks is the underlying mode of the biennale.

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