Writing an Exhibition Statement

When preparing your proposal for submission to the Capture Selected Exhibition Program, you will be asked to provide, among other details, an exhibition statement. Whether you are new to writing this type of text, or looking to brush up your skills, the Capture team has put together the following notes to assist your journey. (While not all of these points need to be covered in a statement, thinking about these topics be useful.)

What’s it all about, anyway?

An exhibition statement provides an opportunity for you to communicate your ideas to a new audience. A clearly written statement will inform your audience of your intentions, and help them to understand your point of view. Your statement will explain the concepts behind your exhibition, describe the works, and what’s more, contextualize everything.

The nitty gritty

When writing a statement, it’s important to include the basic ingredients of your exhibition. This helps your audience to understand the logistics of your presentation, as well as the physical presence of the works. Some points you may want to cover include:

  • What type of works will be exhibited? If the physical materials and scale of the work are important to the exhibition, include that information.
  • Do the materials used to create the work reflect themes of the exhibition? If so, please explain this relationship.
  • How many works will be shown? Is this a single night film screening, or a minimal installation of three small sculptural works, or a salon-style bonanza?
  • Who are the works by? Why is it important that the artist is making this work? How do the works relate to the artist’s practice at large?
  • Is the exhibition a solo exhibition? If so, describe why these particular works have been chosen out of the artist’s oeuvre.
  • Is the exhibition a group exhibition? If so, how do the artists’ or their work relate to one another?
  • Does the location where the works are to be exhibited speak to the work itself? If so, please explain.

Gettin’ all high brow an’ stuff

With the practical details covered, it’s time to dig into the deeper meaning behind the exhibition. What are the concepts and reasons behind your exhibition? When making art in the 21st century, context is everything. Feel free to consider:

  • What is the basic concept of your exhibition? (Try to get this down to a one-sentence elevator pitch. If the concept cannot easily be explained, you may need to refine your intentions.)
  • Are there any themes that are guiding the presentation of your exhibition?
  • What overall impact will the presentation have on your audience? What will people see, think, and feel after experiencing your exhibition?
  • And…Contextualize it! How does your exhibition tie into contemporary art dialogues, or social, political, or environmental situations in the world at large?

Other Resources

For examples of a variety of exhibition statements, look no further than Capture’s 2019 exhibitions! Click on any of the links to see the explanations written by artists and curators.

Do you have trouble editing down the length of your text and clarifying your sentences? Try copying-and-pasting a paragraph into a text-analysis app (such as Expresso) for recommendations on how to refine your text.

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With practice, you’ll find that exhibition statements become easier to put together.

Good luck!

 

Image: Dane Murner, Lobby Flower, 2018, laser lightjet chromogenic print, 11″ x 16.5″

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