Between Success and Overload – an exhibition summary

Nearly three weeks ran our ‘Inspired by the UAE – German Artists in Abu Dhabi’ art exhibition under the patronage of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, hosted by Etihad Modern Art Gallery.

It was a big success in many ways, a lot to be proud of. The feedback was just amazing and flattering. Compliments as “…one of the best organized exhibitions here so far…”, “…amazing marketing…”, “…very good curation and setup…”, “…so many visitors during the entire exhibition period…”, “…highly professional…” “…very good art, truly something different than the usual…” etc…

We did not have the luxury of a team of professionals working for us. In fact, we did it entirely on our own. And we barely new each other on the begin of the exhibition preparation. All what connected us was the German language. The reason to start such a ridiculous task was an offer from our embassy to support an exhibition project for German artists in Abu Dhabi. The offer was made barely one year ago.

I seriously did not want to shoulder such a task on my own, so I contacted Angelika Hamilton, another German artists I already knew briefly. Together we acted as organizer and curation team. We went in touch with Manuela Emmer, Petra Kaltenbach and Ulrike Krocker, and they joined our artist team.

The only person in our group with some direct experiences in organizing and curating group exhibitions was me. Though it quickly turned out, each of us has different competences to add and is willing to take over regarding tasks in preparation. We got some sponsorship to cover expenses as catering, brochure printing, and other setup related printing items. Etihad Modern Art Gallery offered us to display in their rooms. That meant we had display space enough to guarantee each of us a solo worthy representation about how living in the UAE has influenced our personal work. Together we had over 70 artworks on display.

Who ever worked with artists together, know how diverse, sensitive, emotional and ‘difficult’ artists can be. Now imagine a bunch of five artists, all of them female, barely knowing each other. And they are supposed to team work. Sounds like a highly explosive and ridiculous idea? – Well, yes it usually is. But we did it anyway. And we succeeded.

However, there is a reason that exhibitions of such extent are usually organized and curated by very well paid professionals. Those are supposed to guide the artists, keeping their backs free and make sure, the artists only need to concentrate on their own works and representing themselves during the exhibition.  As mentioned, we did not had the luxury of a professional gallery team. We did everything on our own. All the preparation works, the curation, the marketing, the designs, running all errands, the exhibition installation and de-installation, organizing two Art Talk nights and several guided tours/meet the artist events…

I’m really proud of what we managed together, though I seriously do not wish to repeat such a project in the same manner. Being not only artist participating in a prestigious exhibition, but also being curator, coordinator, setup worker and setup leader all in one person, is simply too much. Exhausting, draining, it brought me to my limits in more than one way.

Alone all impressions and feedback I got as an artist during the exhibition were so overwhelming, that I truly need some time to digest everything. The same counts for the realization about what we actually managed to accomplish as a team under these given circumstances.

Even though I would rather avoid another edition in same way, I do not regret anything. It was an awesome experience, a big gain of confidence and some new found clarity about who I am, what I’m doing, what I want and don’t want, where to focus next.

And most important: I found new precious friends…

Here some exhibition impressions in pictures:

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