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Tianjin Art Museum Install

Written by Gary Proctor, Director ( 2013-11-01 12:00:00 )

Our space for Tu Di Shen Ti comprised two squares connected by a long, narrow corridor, all with walls just on eight metres high. It was a strange space, located next to the museum air conditioning plant that rumbled loudly and incessantly - happily we could cover a lot of this noise with the 20 channels sound loop. In many ways a difficult room, the challenge was to bring it to life.

The height of the walls offered an opportunity to arrange artwork spatially, to roughly approximating the Dreaming in a Ngaanyatjarra landscape specifically to the North of Warburton towards Patjarr and much in the same way as we did at XiAn Art Museum in 2011. In some ways this installation was more complex, as it deployed paintings and large format photographs over many levels in the space, and the volunteers managed to put up maybe 5000 of the photographs.

The volunteers themselves were a happy bunch who always showed a lot of enthusiasm and it seems as though the museum has a vigorous program to generate interest in this area. We had seven days to install and excellent assets to do it with, such as the scaffolding and very large goods lift that brought the whole show up to the space in three lots - a far cry from Hohhot where everything was carried up six flights of stairs, and Chongqing Art Museum, where we open next.

Tianjin Art Museum is very new, commissioned about 18 months ago and presents as minimal white cubes and rectangles within [having said this the ascending ramps of stairs were quite beautiful]. In some ways and especially in our upper section of gallery I found its design homage to Modernity a little strict - human beings in a sense diminished by the scale of the architecture - and the exhibition design here worked in response to this feeling. We wanted to do more than we did - in two places on the installation wall we could have made triangular inclining plinths to take paintings that ran off the wall and out onto the floorspace. The museum staff had too many reservations and one lets such ideas drift at a certain stage ... and so Ill do this somewhere else, liking the idea of things intruding into the viewers space. It takes very big shows to fill rooms like this.

After considerable disappointments getting Aboriginal schoolchildren and future community leaders across for some of the first shows we now pause at half way in the tour, and hope for better times next year. The big show in the final four venues looks like being at Shijiazhuang Art Museum, opens 3 March 2014. We would appreciate everybodys support to get Aboriginal people over to this event.