so it’s alumni weekend at Haverford College. I’m sitting behind the desk at the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery where there is a small reception. portobello puffs, grapes, crackers, etc. and beer too, but it doesn’t look like anyone is drinking. reunion years go in 5s at Haverford. that means there are alums from 2005, 2000, 1995… climbing back into the first half of last century. a man (class of 1980-85, judging by looks) enters the gallery. he is in a rush, visibly stressed. he turns to me, pointing to the far end of the space, and asks, “is there a computer in here I can use?” I politely reply, “no, sorry sir.” It’s only after he turns and scuttles out the door that I realize how bizarre his question had seemed. a public computer? in the gallery? why did he expect to find a computer in the gallery?
the interaction made me think: what do we expect to find in a gallery? what belongs in an “art space”? why was the query about the computer so out of place? over the course of the coming months, the Cantor Fitzgerald, in conjunction with Independent Curators International, will explore precisely these questions through a new experiment in exhibit-making, People’s Biennial. guest curators Harrell Fletcher and Jens Hoffman will travel to five art venues across the country to select work from under-represented artists of the surrounding community. insofar as Harrell and Jens choose artists who might consider themselves outside of the “art world,” they delineate what one might find inside that world, all the while questioning the legitimacy and efficacy of its traditions and practices. what does the art world gain by being exclusive? what does the gallery gain by housing art and not computers? are they mutually exclusive?