What happens to artworks once they come down off the walls? Master of Arts (Art Management) students curated the RMIT Gallery exhibition Quiddity as part of their course work.
[Title] Quiddity - transcript
[Short description] This video looks at the RMIT Gallery exhibition Quiddity (1 July - 20 August 2016) that explores the RMIT Art Collection through the eyes of the conservator or registrar.
Quiddity (Latin meaning “the essence of a thing’) was researched and designed in collaboration with students from the RMIT Master of Arts Management program.
Uplifting and motivational music plays throughout.
Duration: 3:27 mins
[Opening title] Quiddity, RMIT Gallery, 30 June – 20 August 2016
[Additional information] Uplifting and motivational music plays throughout.
[Visual] Short scenes are shown. Firstly someone putting on gloves, next two students pushing a table carrying artwork, next Jon Buckingham (curator) moving artwork out of storage, next a group of students carrying the covered art work.
[Visual] Short scenes continue. Firstly two students carrying an artwork, next the work being put up against the wall, next a short look at boxes marked ‘fragile content.’ Then the word ‘Quiddity’ being added to the wall by someone, and then a sweeping shot of different sized yellow boxes marked ‘fragile’ in an otherwise empty space. Next a scene of people lifting one of these boxes onto a transport, and a time lapse scene of the item being wheeled into the space.
Jon Buckingham: Quiddity, meaning the essence of things, is an exhibition about the secret life of art objects. It's about what goes on behind the scenes of an art collection.
[Visual] Continued quick scenes of artwork being installed. A scene in which Jon Buckingham places work and unpacks pieces into the gallery space.
[Screen title] Jon Buckingham – Curator, Quiddity, RMIT Gallery Collections Coordinator
[Visual] Jon Buckingham talking to the camera.
Jon Buckingham: More than half the life of an art object is actually spent in storage. You'll generally see a work hung on a wall in an exhibition, and it's in pristine condition. It looks lovely. But that's only a fraction of what happens with an artwork.
[Visual] Jon Buckingham looking at an artwork closely in the gallery.
Jon Buckingham: Quiddity's been curated in such a way as to really bring the visual language of the storeroom to life.
[Visual] There is a wooden sculpture shown, and then next a room with artworks on top of their storage boxes. The next artwork shown is some ceramics of fruit and vegetables laid out on a table. There is then a scene in which Jon Buckingham is looking closely at a painting. Another set of sculpture pieces laid out on a table are shown, and then a sweeping shot of the space with art pieces and storage boxes.
Jon Buckingham: RMIT has been collecting art for the last 125 years or more, and we've put together a diverse, often challenging, collection of works that seeks to really talk about the story of RMIT and its staff and its alumni.
[Visual] There are now some quick crossfades of different art pieces hanging up on walls. There are some modern photographs and then some minimal colourful paintings. Next Jon Buckingham talking to the camera is shown.
Jon Buckingham: This exhibition was a collaboration between the RMIT Gallery and the RMIT School of Arts' master's program in Arts Management. We had 6 students working on the exhibition.
[Visual] Scenes of students and Jon Buckingham moving art pieces into the gallery space, wheeling storage boxes across the ground and carrying paintings.
Jon Buckingham: It was really a chance for them to interact on a visceral level, rather than a virtual level, actually getting into contact with art objects, learning how to handle them, what to do with them, taking that information and then translating it back into the language of an exhibition.
[Screen title] Eleanor Boydell – RMIT Arts Management Student
[Visual] Eleanor Boydell speaking to camera.
Eleanor Boydell: Quiddity has been a really good opportunity to get hands-on, behind the scenes experience in a way that a lot of academic work isn't necessarily.
[Visual] A few short scenes of students moving art pieces. Eleanor Boydell speaking to the camera is shown again.
Eleanor Boydell: We're very tentative sometimes about working with art and handling art. Working, physically, with artworks has given me the confidence to work physically with artworks.
[Visual] A scene of Jon Buckingham looking at a painting of a woman that is laid out on a table. He looks at it closely with a magnifying glass. Through the magnifying glass small cracks are shown on the painting across the woman’s back.
Jon Buckingham: The Hugh Ramsay work that we have in the collection Now, the work actually sustained some damage, just as a part of its natural aging process. We're displaying the work flat. It allows people to get up close and look through a magnifying glass at the fine network of cracks. That really gives us a chance to talk about what we're going to be doing to restore it.
[Visual] A scene of Eleanor Boydell lifting up a sheet of plastic and laying it over a cutting board, next Eleanor is standing over an art piece and looking at it closely. Next Eleanor is talking to the camera.
Eleanor Boydell: The Master of Arts Management has diversified my understanding of what opportunities are available in the arts sector. It's enhanced my confidence in actually speaking about what I believe in, including what I believe the arts should be and why they're important.
[Visual] A scene of a student placing a painting against a wall, laying it carefully on foam, and then putting artworks carefully away. Next is another scene of Eleanor talking to the camera.
Eleanor Boydell: One of the things I would recommend to anyone who was newly entering the course was, do everything you can to get an internship. Do some projects that have real life outcomes, as opposed to sort of the essay.
[Visual] Art pieces on top of storage boxes are shown, and then Jon Buckingham walking through the pieces and looking at them. He stops to look at a ceramic sculpture.
Jon Buckingham: What is the intrinsic quality of an artwork that makes it important? What is the intrinsic quality of an artwork that is often hidden? This is what Quiddity is about.
[Closing credits] RMIT Gallery. Quiddity has been researched and designed by RMIT Gallery, in collaboration with student from the RMIT Master of Arts Management Program: Eleanor Boydell, Deborah Elmer, Clare Flynn, Brigid Hansen, Angela Maria Hernandez, Angela Ng. RMIT University.
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