RESEARCH work bASED ON PHOTOGRAPHY AND ART IN THE STAATLICHE MUSEEN ZU BERLIN (HAMBURGER BAHNHOF – MUSEUM FÜR GEGENWART).
2017 | Berlin | 9 digital photographs | Text «Invisible, but in the know» by Pirmin Bossart | Translation by Dr. René Stettler
Invisible, but in the know
They have something they would like to tell us. The attendants in exhibition spaces standing around and guarding the value of art. The watchdogs of the traditional museum. Monitoring personnel. Guards. Personnel that, in a way, casts a long shadow between the artwork and the viewer. Among them we never feel completely undisturbed. And we ask ourselves: is this a visionary museum?
Art exhibitions tell stories, engage us in confrontations, convey emotions. Who knows better than the attendants spending their time day in and day out in exhibition spaces? These mute men and women in suits are there when the artworks are set up. They witness the artists’ behaviours and the way they speak. They hear their voices, follow their gestures, figure out ideas. They watch how the artworks are positioned and they see them later staged. They become absorbed in thought and develop attitudes. They are also aware of the visitors’ behaviours. They hear whispered comments, throat-clears, and spoken words. They catch distinct glimpses and see how people are transformed. How looks are changing when people get stuck with thoughts, are amazed, scared, and delighted. Who could comment on these observations better than they do?
The research based on photography and art in the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart) provides a document of this quiet potential and draws conclusions from reflective inquiries. It takes the attendants seriously and gives them a new status: they could all become part of an engaging speaking experience about art! And they could also become part of the art experience itself. Boredom would turn into engagement. At the same time, the art museum could become a future-oriented place by converting its visitors into real clients. Who would benefit more from this whole enterprise and the exhibited artworks than these clients?
A new perspective is opening up with the help of the attendants who are now actors in art communication. Their knowledge is based on the long-term experience of observation, and this is what visitors don’t have. These attendants can activate their observations and impressions by means of knowledge communication, and in order to bring personal experiences into play. They won’t stand apart, but in the Museum of the Future they’ll talk about art.