Summer Days (formerly May Days) is an annual art event that takes place over the course of two weeks that is run and curated by the third year Academie Minerva students, to showcase their art. The event takes part across different venues around the city of Groningen, and is made up of various different exhibitions of work created by the students. This year on my Erasmus exchange year, I would be fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be a part of Summer Days 2019.
Myself and six other Minvera students came together to form an all-female group of visual artists working with a variety of mediums. We are a group of multi-disciplinary painters, sculptures, textile artists, photographers, and performers, which has proven to contribute a variety of different perspectives and ideas for our exhibition. The internationality of our group is also fantastic to note, as our group is made up of artists from England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, The Netherlands and Ukraine, allowing for a diverse cultural collection of creative minds.
We've been meeting every couple of weeks to discuss our ideas and plans for the exhibition, as well as the opening event. After searching around and contacting various different venues - our exhibition will take place at Vrijdag, which is an exhibition space celebrating Music, Theatre and art, as well as offering workshops and lectures.
Myself and a few others in the group met with the coordinators of the space to discuss our ideas, and we were pleased to know that the space would be offered to us for free, in exchange for some workshops and/or lectures to be led by us. This didn't feel like a cost at all, as we were all eager to participate in leading some sort of creative workshop or talk.
This will be a fantastic opportunity to increase our individual confidence, share our artistic knowledge, as well as providing networking and an insight to potential career prospects after university.
Some photos of the space including Vrijdag's current exhibition:
Choosing A Title
After meeting with the coordinators, and all seeing the space, we needed to come up with a title for our exhibition, as well as some ideas for the opening, and a plan for the advertisement posters. After several conversations, we came up with the title Do Not Touch. Do Not Touch explores themes of intimacy, femininity, and exploitation, but also boundaries within art, where viewers are often forbidden to experience physical touch with artworks, and human indexicality is perceived as damage or devaluing works. Who gets to set these boundaries within the art world? Or within the confinements of a gallery space? What are the signifiers that tell the viewer 'do not touch'? How can we, as artists and curators, challenge this?
This title immediately seemed interesting and with depth, but still ambiguous, allowing for a broad brief (if you like) to meet within our work for the exhibition, as well as leaving it open to interpretation for the viewer.
Hedwich (another group member) and I experimented with some photography and post-production editing to come up with some visual representations of our title and theme. We would then submit our chosen design to the Vrijdag coordinators along with a description for our exhibition, for them to fit to their advertisement poster template.
Here were two of the best designs:
Being a part of the poster design team has allowed to me further understand practical applications for my photographic work, whilst considering and following a brief not only for ourselves, but for a client.
Meeting with Vrijdag #2
After completing our title, description and poster design, we met with the Vrijdag exhibition coordinators again to present our plans and ideas. The team were extremely impressed with our progress, and were intrigued to see the work we would produce for the show. This was very reassuring, and their enthusiasm provided us with a confidence that we needed to streamline our individual attitudes towards our work.
As well as this, we were given a tour of the building and workshop areas, which we were informed we are able to use as workspace if needed. This was another fantastic opportunity to socialise and network with other artists and industry professionals, as well as encouraging us to spend more time at the venue, which would allow for practical considerations about how we can utilise and manipulate the space for our exhibition.
Do Not Touch will take place at Vrijdag (@ the Walstraat 34 location). The opening will take place on Friday 7th June at 7pm, where there will be drinks provided, as well as performances from The Saxtastics (a pop, jazz and Latina band). The exhibition will run until the 14th June, and I will provide more information on workshops/lectures as they become available!