The closed exhibition: when form needs a break

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It has been over 200 years that the term “exhibition” (roughly in the meaning in which we use it today) appeared for the first time, when philosopher Friedrich Schlegel mentioned it in a letter to a friend after visiting the Louvre Museum in 1802. In addition to the concept’s long history, exhibitions are extensive, in the sense that they reach ample geographies, and are often under pressure to reach large numbers of people. They are also exhaustive, in the sense that they entail a wide range of formats and sizes and in that they represent diverse ideologies. I will explore the question of whether the exhibition – in its concept, its form, its life, its omnipresence – is in addition exhausted and whether this potentially hinders its societal impact, assuming this medium is able to offer such possibility. Is it a practice that is potentially consumed, drained, or depleted, and fatigued of being simultaneously so many things, in such a variety of ways, in so many places of the world and for this extended period of time? Or does it simply need a rest to recoup its creative energies? These questions will be analysed through the lens of “closed exhibitions” of art (1960-2017), which arguably counter the logic of overproduction. This essay argues that closed exhibitions could potentially trigger novel reflections on issues of commonality and shared experience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-143
JournalRevista de História Da Arte
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2019

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  • closed exhibitions
  • institutional critique
  • schlegel
  • Shared experience

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