A while back I read an article on The Atlantic titled ‘Art for Instagram’s Sake’ by Katherine Schweb, which questioned whether immersive exhibitions were changing the nature of the gallery experience. Undoubtedly visitors are spending more time looking at the art through their phone, ‘meticulously choosing filters to best highlight the vibrant colours and textures of the art before them’, or using the exhibition backdrop for the ‘ultimate selfie’. As she rightly comments, the phenomenon brings art to the masses in a way that hasn’t been achieved before, making people more curious and perhaps more likely to visit galleries themselves. Like her, I disagree that it’s nobody’s place – art critic, art institution, or cultural elite – to say what ways art should or shouldn’t be experienced by an individual, and this is precisely why I found the recent Yoyoi Kusama’s exhibition at London’s Victoria Miro gallery to be a disappointment.
Thankfully free reign was given to explore Kusama's outdoor installations and impressive large-scale paintings showing intricate details and hallucination-inspired motifs, but the whole experience reeked of a school trip, with visitors arranged into groups and taken through the show.
It seems to me that if visitors choose to snap the exhibition it is their prerogative, but if galleries start to prioritise numbers and the 'been there seen that' mentality over genuine experiences, enjoyed at leisure, then art is reduced more and more to digital spectacle rather than something experienced in space and time. Curation - particularly where there is high demand - is key to genuine experiences.