Pointers for Presentation of My Project on a Gallery Wall or Site-Specific Installation

I have been asked to consider how I might present my body of work to a public audience. I’ve already decided a large photo book is an appropriate, tangible and mobile method for displaying my work to a public audience. However, I have collated my thoughts on how else I might present my body of work, namely in a gallery space or a site-specific installation.

Even though when I think of a gallery space, I immediately envisage a ‘white cube’ scenario, there are always some factors to consider in terms of layout. For example, there’s the size of the space in which the images/project would appear, which then dictates how big the images can be printed for the space. Then there’s the layout of the room(s) in which the work appears, which usually has some characteristics that bear thinking about. For instance, one room may be smaller than another or there might be the perfect space for a vitrine in an alcove etc. Therefore there’s a lot to contemplate when displaying work in a gallery space.

I would say the images for my project are most impactful when printed large. I got printed the images for Assignment 2 at 20×16 inches and I felt details became apparent (if a tad over-sharpened) that weren’t as perceivable in smaller (10×8 inch) prints I’ve got printed. However, my tutor feels (and I would agree with him) that 20×16 inch prints would still get swallowed up in a gallery setting and prints double the size would be more appropriate for the type of images I’ve produced. Taking into consideration the size of the gallery space, even metre wide prints might be too small for a larger setting. Because my images are digital I could quite easily print them smaller if the space required smaller prints. Alternatively, I could omit some of the final 11 selected images and print only the best/most salient images for the project. However, printing the images larger than 1 metre wide might be a challenge because of the size of the files in terms of megapixels. I think the images would hold up well when viewed from a distance but not so well if viewers got up close.

In a previous post I looked closely at how the images were laid out in the Deutsche Börse 2020 exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery, paying particular attention to framing and print size. I made some observations on how I might lay out my project in a gallery space based on these notes. I still would say because my work is of a consistent nature and to better immerse the viewer in the work, consistent and appropriate framing should be used. Ideally, the prints would be made of the same size and the accompanying poems could be displayed beside or underneath their corresponding image, though not obtrusively. I do not think my work is of a narrative nature between images so it wouldn’t be crucial for the sequencing to be strict. I think it would be more important for the image and poem combinations to be displayed well so the narrative between each combination is apparent.

If my project were to appear in a gallery then it would make a lot of sense to hold the exhibition in Deptford. After all, Deptford is where the images were taken and the poems were inspired by. I feel people would be more intrigued by the project if it was held somewhere in the place it originated from and a gallery in Deptford would be quite appropriate in this regard. Incidentally, many new gallery spaces have opened up in the last few years in Deptford so there would be a lot of choice or opportunity for me if I were to try to hold an exhibition for my project there. One of these spaces even appears as a subject in an image I’ve produced for the project! I feel it would be quite cool and meta if that gallery held one of my images where the gallery itself was depicted.

Reprocessed Composite Where the People in the Image Have Been Rearranged to Better Fit In with the Rest of the Series
A Gallery Space in Deptford Appears as a Subject in One of My Composites

At first, I couldn’t imagine my project appearing in a site-specific installation. I could only imagine it appearing in a gallery setting. However, after thinking about different scenarios for a while, I came up with an idea. One space is the library in Deptford. The images could be pinned up on the notice boards inside the library as a temporary installation. The accompanying poems could also be pinned onto the notice boards but in the form of mock-notices placed beside the corresponding images almost incidentally. It would be a good space for the project as lots of local people come to the library to learn – sometimes about Deptford and its history and my project introduces how Deptford is perceived to be changing through my eyes. People might also be encouraged to pin their own notes on the notice board detailing what they thought of the images/poems or what they thought about Deptford changing.

I found contemplating different ways to display my work in a gallery space or a site-specific installation rewarding because the considerations were all useful and I feel I came up with some plausible and interesting solutions. I hadn’t properly reflected on a site-specific installation before but this turned out to be the presentation method I got the most insight from and I appreciated being asked to think about less orthodox approaches to presenting my work.

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