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Edible Interpretation at Castlefield Gallery!

Castlefield Gallery in Manchester tried something new with interpretation this summer. Programme Manager Matthew Prendergast explains:


Artist Joe Fletcher Orr sees contemporary art exhibitions at venues ranging from large municipal art galleries to small independent artist–led spaces. After visits, particularly to preview events, he frequently finds a crumpled yet unread exhibition handout stuffed into his back pocket.

Joe Fletcher Orr, Just-Eat, Photo John Lynch, 2014

Joe Fletcher Orr, Just-Eat, Photo John Lynch, 2014

For the exhibition I Would Like to Join a Club and Hit Myself with It (Castlefield Gallery 11th July- August 17th 2014), Orr proposed that the interpretation for the exhibition be printed on rice paper with edible ink, and be made available for visitors to eat. Just Eat 2014 was a play on the idea of literally consuming information and the ephemeral nature of exhibition handouts. The work also related to other works in the exhibition, which expressed the way it is often difficult to distinguish the content of contemporary art works from the structures of exhibitions and institutions.

There was no direction from Orr about what the nature of the handout text should be or what it should contain. It was simply understood that it is the job of the curator or in this case Castlefield Gallery’s Programme Manager, Matthew Pendergast, to write handout texts for visitors to exhibitions.

Pendergast responded to Orr’s intervention by acknowledging in his text the mixed feelings around gallery interpretation; that some may consider it to be ‘… an unnecessary excess, full of tenuously related surplus information’ by writing a text which begins with a dense reference to the Philosopher Slavoj Zizek, Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein.

The reference and the following two pages of text where intended to satirise this perception of gallery interpretation whilst also attempting to present a genuinely relevant and potentially useful contextualisation of the exhibition. Together the work and the text presented a playful antagonism between artist, curator and institution, for visitors to consider when negotiating what an exhibition of contemporary art might mean to them.


Welcome to Interpretation Matters!

Interpretation Matters is all about the written material found in galleries - the text panels on the walls, providing context for the work on show, and the printed booklets that describe the works or overall programme. Usually "under-the-radar", the aim of this site is to highlight this important area of gallery practice.

Interpretation Matters is conceived and directed by arts writer Dany Louise.

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