The Cardiff Open

So I missed out on the opportunity to submit something for the Cardiff Open exhibition. Unfortunately I didn’t find out about it until the submission deadline had passed. It’s a little bit of a shame because it’s not often that geographically restricted shows include the Vale of Glamorgan within their boundaries.

However, hindsight is not a bad thing at all and after a little further inspection I’m not really that bothered to have missed out since the project seems to be lacking in intellectual rigour.

The remit of the Cardiff Open is as follows:

Cardiff Open will act as a platform for showcasing the best contemporary art practice from an open call of submissions.

Whilst the submission guidelines were as follows:

  • max. 3 images [jpeg 72 dpi or pdf. no more than 5mb in total]
  • details of all images [title, medium, size [cm], wall price]
  • current CV including contact details

How can the selectors for an exhibition that purports to act as a showcase for the best contemporary art in the region make their choices from nothing more than a handful of low resolution digital images without any context?

You’ll notice that instead of asking for an artist statement which contextualises the work the Cardiff Arts Collective asked artists to submit their CV.

I can only conclude that the selectors have chosen work by artists with a good track record (based upon the request for a CV) and/or artists whose work makes for a pretty picture at 72 dots per inch. Of course a pretty picture makes for a potential sale which is no doubt why artists were also asked to submit a wall price.

It’s a sad state of affairs but unfortunately symptomatic of many open call ‘art’ exhibitions that I’ve come across lately.

What really irritates me though is that this project has the support of the Arts Council of Wales. At least this is the assumption I making since the ACW logo is plastered all over the Cardiff Arts Collective website.

The Arts Council of Wales exists to “support the creation of the best in great art”.

I would argue that ill considered projects like this Cardiff Open exhibition do not present the best in great art. Instead we will be presented with a selection of works that are linked only by geography and by the fact that they satisfy the aesthetic tastes of the selection panel (who I assume were the Cardiff Arts Collective committee members).

It’s exhibitions like this that give the visual arts a bad name. They give the general public the idea that visual art is simply the creation of an image by relegating the intellectual values of the work

Without context visual art exhibitions are meaningless collections of images.

I’m all for regional exhibitions to highlight the strength and depth of work that is being produced but curators need to put more thought into these projects. Simply grouping all of the work together under one roof just because artists all live within the same county boundary is lazy at best.

Organisers of exhibitions like this should take the time to get to know the artists in their region and develop and understanding of the work produced. By doing so they’ll better place themselves in a position to produce an exhibition which works with the artist and their work to produce an exhibition that shows all involved in the best light.

Whilst I must applaud the organisers of the Cardiff Open for not charging a submission fee I fear that they will present us with a jumble of un-curated work.

I’ve no doubt that some, if not all of the work on display will be of a high calibre but it will be difficult to fully appreciate such work if careful consideration is not given to the presentation of the work in the context of the exhibition as a whole.

I suppose part of the responsibility should lie with the artists in as much as they should give some thought to the exhibitions they want to take part in and not exhibit for the sake of exhibiting.

Having said that I can understand that artists just want to see their art out there in the world.

Although I have concerns about the Cardiff Open exhibition I’ll reserve my final judgment until the show opens for us all to see.

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