Drawings by Petra Lunenburg
How do you record an exhibition that hardly anyone has seen because of lockdown? Art on Display 1949-69 featured fragments of historical exhibitions, focusing on the relationship between the spatial design, the artworks and the public. Would photography or film record it accurately? Or has the enforced absence of the public created an opportunity to use other media? What if we enlisted an illustrator to visualise the public interaction with the exhibition that was barely possible because of the pandemic?
Petra Lunenburg has made a series of drawings inspired by Art on Display which aim to capture the atmosphere of the various exhibition fragments and make tangible the encounters with artworks that were so carefully staged by the architects. The series can be seen as a speculative and evocative exhibition archive that, adding to the more commonplace archive of photos and design sketches, evokes rather than records the anticipated confrontation between the artworks and the visitors, their sightlines and their movements, based on a specific spatial scenography.
“I think the idea of expressing and archiving the human and emotional side of an exhibition through drawings is really relevant,” says Petra Lunenburg. “Since my work is about human experience, this project brings together many things, for me at least. I have drawn a lot of fashion, and my starting point is almost always the movement or the feeling that the garment evokes in me, the relationship between the wearer and the design. I translate my response to this into a human figure surrounded by directional lines that suggest movement. Although Art on Display is well outside my fashion comfort zone, I’ve approached it in the same way. I observed myself while walking through the exhibition. How do I move? Which route do I take? And how do I view the displays? What does the object do to me? What do I feel in my body when I enter into a relationship with the exhibits and open myself up to them? And then I discovered another layer: the exhibition fragments without my presence. How do the objects ‘talk’ to each other? And what if the exhibits themselves become the observers?”