The gauntlet was thrown down early in the day. In a talk titled Parasites Like Us: Studies of the Possible in Impossible Times, educator and researcher Janna Graham described most exhibition models as following what Paulo Freire had described in the Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 1968, as the ‘banking model’: the audience is an empty vessel filled up with culture, which is handed down from above by the artist via a curator. Graham, a member of collective Ultra-Red and curator at the Serpentine’s offsite Centre for Possible Studies on Edgeware Road, proposed a series of other possible bottom-up and lateral models where these roles could be shifted, shared or dispersed.
Her critical and claustrophobic talk was a keynote presentation as part of ‘Exhibition as Medium: End Symposium’, a day of presentations at The Showroom capping off a year-long programme at Margate’s Crate Studio and Project Space curated by Toby Huddlestone. Huddlestone had sought over six ‘experimental’ exhibitions and various events to explore process over product, ‘alternate modes of exhibition format via the presentation of research through production’. Much of the day consisted of talks describing the six exhibitions, and though each proposed a slightly different approach – such as a group of artists collaborating in reaction to Fischli & Weiss’s The Way Things Go, 1987, or six curators creating works based on instructions from Scottish artist Desmond Church – each time the constrictions of the framework imposed were raised as an issue. It seems that Freire’s hierarchical model ran through much of the project and by the end of the day was still standing.