Art presentation is about more than just exhibiting and showcasing. Australian artist Adam Nankervis’ organic approach to curatorship is helping artwork find a voice of its own.
Through empty white space, a gallery can connect an art piece with its viewer, and while it ushers people into the secret world of a creator, the immersion, like the quiet sanctity of an altarpiece, leaves the viewer to find a context or background, through education and art appreciation, that helps him or her understand the piece further.
Adam Nankervis’ Museum MAN makes the gallery space part of a broader narrative by connecting it with other art pieces, fitting artworks into the existing stories of objects with a history. He has taken it to different settings, and transported the museum to cities around the world.
“Museum MAN was a frame for intervention and remained as such into its various manifests form Berlin to Valparaiso, New York to Liverpool. I was willing to open the parameters of what was normally acceptable with the confines of a gallery, democratise the potential to exhibit, and experiment with that outcome.” said Nankervis whose Museum MaN project was born out of a fateful flat move in Berlin in 1997. the previous tenant was a dead, ex-soldier who left behind a trail of artefacts and personal belongings in the flat. It became apparent that the interacting bric-a-brac of mementos was a record of a life, and a dialogue between objects and living things that brought them together. His flat, soon became a place to showcase these relics as well as Nankervis ‘ own artwork. It doubled as museum of his work along with the objects left behind by this “ unknown solider” which included an old helmet and a Brandenburg flag.
With his own work in the collection, along with donated artwork from other artists, the assemblage becomes a cabinet of interweaving histories that presents the continuity between the life of the original tenant and those that have followed. the gallery space may conceptually depart from the contained absorption of “ the White Cube” but where it don’t make an object speak loudly on its own - It allows collaboration.
“This saw established artists collaborating with lesser-known artists, musicians, performance artists and DJ’s,” said Nankervis. “It broke very early with conventions of a static gallery space, thankfully now seen practised in many places, even the established institutions and museums that have embraced the notion of crossing boundaries and finding the links and celebrating and giving a platform to the unconventional art movements taking place.”
Rather than attempt to revolutionise gallery spaces, Nankervis draws attention to the ubiquitous creativity of the worlds we interact with in our living histories. The objects in these everyday spaces map out lives that can be read and with rich organic artistry that writes the narrative of our living spaces. Nankervis alludes to the “Cabinets of Curiosities” of the 17th century- collections of seemingly unrelated objects put together incongruously by scholars and rich amateur collectors in their homes. He also recounts an epiphany of sorts at an early age.
“ When I was a boy of around ten years old, i would visit my great grandfather who owned one of the largest tracts of land in Australia,” reveals Nankervis. “ He was a man built on and of horizons and had moved to Victorian house with a garden teeming with wild Europe an and native flowers. In the black shed, he kept his work and gardening tools and scrap books. Crudely cut articles were collaged together with letters of prominent politicians and writers.
They were an inspiration. In every little tobacco tin, “Sailors Players Plain” wooden boxes, little marmalade jars, within one and all were hidden photographs or collectors cards from the teens and 1920’s. Girly cards with burlesque ostrich fans were lines and glues to the base of these tins, as much as an unknown “solder,a pearlescent photograph of sombre men and women were sandwiched in the little jars hidden by a cacophony of tacks outside. i would spill them onto his workbench and stand them framed as he had must have done for himself. This private pleasure. This hidden gallery. A secret life lived by him of unknown people. The unknown and exotic places they inhabited.
One of Nankervis’ project another vacant space uses the same curatorial language. Conceptually though it implies the idea of emptiness - the other, another, and the silent, time-compressed touchstones of information world we live in, The selected artwork is preoccupied with the lost, unseen or newly discovered. Another vacant space resurrects an old project. In the next exhibition, planned foe 2012, artists Ivor Stodolsky and Marita Muukkonen present the Leningrad Conceptual Archives ( form the time of the artistic underground cement in the arts during Russia’s Perostoika) that lay undiscovered for many years until Stodolsky discovered the minutes and documentation in an arts it's cupboard, another vacant space was first discovered and opened in new York City in 1992. it could be viewed as Museum Man in acommercial space. Nankervis took over a small shop that had gone bankrupt during a recession and in the labyrinth of vacancies, galleries, and establishments, the streets at the time became glass passages of empty and swiftly abandoned spaces, embraced by artistic nature that abhors a vacuum.
“The luxury, and sometimes necessity of running my own space allows for an organic growth in that I am not inhibited by time and have at most times invited the artist to stay, or at least work within the spaces site specifically as I see this as an important informant to the results of the exhibition. the site specificity creates a fascinating dialogue.”
Words Remo Notarianni