Window (Re/production | Re/presentation)
Address: 54 Broadway, Asheville, NC 28801
Contact: Dawn Roe
Open Hours: 24/7
How is the project operated?
We are an artist-run space housed in a storefront window of a local reprographic business in Asheville, NC called Henco Reprographics. The owners very generously host the project and also serve as sponsors, printing the work of each artist as well as the vinyl lettering at no cost to the artist.
How long has it been in existence?
Our first exhibition took place in March of 2013 and featured the work of Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe.
What was your motivation?
Even though Asheville is often described as having a strong arts community, it is difficult to bring together the scattered groups of people who want to have thoughtful, critical discussions about art and culture. Many in the community share this concern, and finding ways to bring these people together is a challenge. Realizing that renting a collaborative studio or small exhibition space wasn’t going to be financially feasible, I started thinking about what I might be able to do relatively simply and on my own at first, just to get the ball rolling. I thought about what other platforms might work, which led me to consider local storefront spaces in the downtown area. Ideally, I’m hoping to add something to the mix of ongoing conversation in the community and in some ways challenge the viewing public to reconsider some of their preconceived ideas about what a work of art should be, or how it should be seen.
Number of organizers/responsible persons of the project.
Currently, I am the sole member of Window, serving as curator, organizer, promoter, etc. This is manageable as the project is fairly low impact and, as mentioned above, the owners of Henco Reprographics print the work and install it in the window for each exhibition. However, I do hope to form an advisory committee at some point in the future as Window grows and expands (see a bit more on that in the final question, below).
How are programs funded?
The owners of Henco Reprographics, who generously provide the space, as well as the materials and installation labor, fund each exhibition. I should add that the owners of Henco are strong supporters of the arts in Asheville and this is most certainly a prime example of that. There is currently no outside funding for the project in terms of providing support to artists in the form of stipends and/or travel fees.
Who is responsible for the programming?
The programming is organized by myself and primarily takes the form of sidewalk art talks or lectures when out of town artists are able to travel to Asheville for a public reception and/or co-sponsored events with other arts organizations.
Number and average duration of exhibitions/events per year.
At this time, we have new work up every 3 months. We also work to cross-promote events with like-minded organizations and artists in the community and beyond, and host lectures and sidewalk art talks at least 2-3 times per year.
What kind of events are usually organized?
In 2013 we organized a symposium called Copy/Right in conjunction with The Media Arts Project which took the form of an exhibition, panel discussion, lecture and screening (hosted by the sadly now defunct Apothecary). Currently, we’ve partnered with a newly opened artist-run-space Revolve (in Asheville’s River Arts District) to create The Asheville Art Theory Reading Group. And, when possible, artists travel to Asheville for a public reception which generally includes a sidewalk art talk and/or more formal public lecture when we are able to find a space willing to host us (as was the case with a recent lecture by McLean Fahnestock and her collaborative partner, Michael Dickins, held at The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center).
How is your programming determined?
During the first year, all exhibiting artists were personally invited, as I wanted to set a particular tone with very specific works. We then opened a call for submissions and have since been showing a mixture of work from artists responding to the call as well as those who’ve been recommended to us by former participants. I’m often asked whether Window is intended to serve as a space for local artists to display their work. I always respond by emphasizing that, for this project, it’s really not so much about exposure as generating dialogue. And, although there absolutely IS a need for more non-profit spaces in Asheville where artists can experiment with installation strategies and share their work in non-commercial settings, my feeling is that Window can offer more to the community by primarily showing the work of artists from outside the region, enriching local conversations and bringing new work into dialogue with our own. The artists I’ve shown so far are all invested in the ideas behind the project and are essentially donating their work to the cause. I’ve been amazed at how generous and flexible people have been in allowing me to display their work in this manner, and for no monetary compensation, as the project is not funded at this time.
Do you accept proposals/submissions?
We do. As mentioned above, there is now an open call for submissions that can be accessed on our website. I should note that we have moved away from a once per month exhibition cycle to once every three months, meaning that the schedule gets filled pretty quickly. We are currently full through April of 2016, but would always love to see new work (related to our mission, of course) to keep on file.
What is your artistic/curatorial approach?
Like many alternative venues, our platform challenges traditional notions of the exhibition space, but also has a particular focus on the work of contemporary image-makers who very deliberately engage with issues of re-production and re-presentation within their practice via philosophical, theoretical and/or formal/process-based frameworks. We seek out works that consider these aspects through such means as the repurposing of found or archival source materials, challenging notions of originality and authenticity, those that stimulate perceptual phenomena through reiteration or duplication, implement re-photography as a critical component, or embrace re-production as essential to the work in some manner.
Even though Window has a very particular curatorial framework in terms of the artworks displayed, the artists who’ve been involved thus far come at these ideas from vastly different perspectives. It’s been great to be able to show such a wide array of imagery over the last couple of years, and I continue to be excited by new works that artists are proposing.
What’s working? What’s not working?
In some ways, I suppose it’s easier to simply install one work in a storefront window than to hang an entire exhibition in a brick and mortar space, but at the same time, this limitation can be a challenge. The work needs to function well in the relatively rigid format of a large rectangle, and its aesthetic and conceptual elements need to appropriately collide. I’ve been thrilled to be able to showcase works that artists have very purposefully designed based upon the specific parameters of the window space. The fact that Window is more of a project space or platform, and really isn’t a venue, per se, complicates the response, as viewers are not always exactly sure what they are seeing and/or how they should approach it. So, I’m not too sure how the everyday passerby has responded to the regularly changing works in the window space, but my hope is that people have begun to notice the rotating display of works and perhaps make a point of returning to see what’s next. Most of my conversations with locals about the project have occurred during our semi-regular public openings that take place inside the shop and on the sidewalk in front of the work. We’ve had a lot of great conversations during these events and people are really enthusiastic and excited to talk about the ideas the artists are putting forth in their work – ranging from issues around appropriation, the archive, digital glitch, perceptual processes and historicity.
The primary challenges have to do with educating the public about the space in terms of the mission of the project (engaging with issues of representation and reproduction specifically) and encouraging people to take part in discussion at the openings or via the on-line blog, which welcomes both authored and anonymous posts and comments. I’m optimistic that with each successful installation, word will spread and people will be encouraged to become contributors or participants.
What kind of role do you hope to play in your local art scene or community?
Not to be redundant, but that notion of dialogue and exchange that I continually emphasize truly is the focus. As well, pushing the public to challenge themselves is a primary concern. Because the artwork is decidedly not for sale, the viewing audience can engage with each installation without the preoccupations that sometimes accompany commercial gallery exhibitions. As well, placing the artwork in plain view in an exterior space makes the work accessible to everyone and allows the public to engage with it at his or her own pace. This model seems especially suited to photo-based works as they lend themselves to reproduction and experimentation with various modes of representation. But, I want to emphasize that this is not a photo-specific project. One of the most exciting things about this project is seeing how artists who work in various media actualize their work within the conceptual and physical parameters of the space.
What idea are you most excited about for the future?
Two things – 1) Window will have a brick-and-mortar exhibition in the gallery at The Asheville Area Arts Council in May of 2016, and 2) Window is going global! The exhibition will be part of next year’s Point of View curatorial series at the AAAC and, as to Window:GLOBAL, basically, this has become possible through a fairly substantial faculty research grant I was recently awarded from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida where I serve as Associate Professor of Art. The grant will allow me to seek out additional venues both in the U.S. and abroad willing to turn over a portion of their storefronts to be used for the project, and will cover the initial funding (likely for at least one full year) for the printing of artwork for each location. The limited scope of this project has allowed it to be fairly successful thus far, but this grant will allow the potential for broader impact with the launching of additional project spaces and the expansion of our web presence, allowing for the international exchange of ideas and dialogue. Engaging in research with colleagues around the globe will give this project an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to contemporary curatorial strategies that purposefully engage the public and energize communities by making artwork available for viewing in unconventional, accessible spaces.
We look forward to collaborating with colleges and universities, arts and culture organizations and local and regional businesses. In fact, if anyone reading this would like to get involved, please drop us/me a line!
Images courtesy of Window (Re/production | Re/presentation).
Photo: Dawn Roe