CHROMA: The Red Issue


20 January, 2016

What is CHROMA? How did it begin? 

We first had the idea for CHROMA during preparations for our degree show at Chelsea College of Arts. Putting together such a large-scale group exhibition of disparate artists and individual works was exciting, stressful and everything in between. The show was great but in places felt very individualistic as there was no thematic or narrative structure, and due to the nature of the show it felt, of course, competitive. We really wanted to reproduce the potential and dynamic of such a big show whilst introducing a more cohesive relationship between the individual works. CHROMA aims to explore what elements of association are generated between loosely related yet entirely separate works and from this investigate the narrative potential of visual arrangement.

The singular given commonality – this time Red – allows room for both cohesion and variety, and enables the show to interrogate and experiment with the possibilities of a visual language being formed by exploring the conversations the individual works are forced to have through their curation.

CHROMA proposes to act as a platform for articulation; will this be purely through the curation? Will there be an accompaniment of critical essays and discourse?

The whole project is an experiment in visual thought and the development of narrative, visual language and relationships through curation, so with this in mind CHROMA will present only artworks – both exhibited and published – for the time being. After several events we really want to assess what we feel the outcome of this visual thinking has been, what kind of collective discourse the curation generates, and what this means for the relationship between the group show and each individual work.

We hope to reflect on this process with a collection of documentation, works and essays if this still feels like an appropriate approach in the future. This is really just the beginning of an experiment and so we’re really excited about keeping our plans open and watching how the project develops.

CHROMA: Red Issue is the first exhibition and publication, what do you look forward to?

As we mentioned, Red Issue is a huge experiment and we are really looking forward to seeing exactly what happens between the works, the artists, the space and the viewers. It will also be really great to see the materiality and physicality of the works as the submission process was entirely digital. We are particularly excited to see the response to the publication, which is a series of fold-out prints that aims to act as a material art space to be curated by the ‘reader’, as opposed to an art magazine.

We are also really looking forward to hearing the artists’ responses to the curation, particularly because many of the works existed prior to CHROMA. A big part of the experiment is to play with context and situation; if we curate a show of works to which we have assigned a theme, how will these works be read in comparison to in their original contexts? What effect will our grouping have?

In terms of the format of the show, a really important part is the fact that CHROMA is essentially nameless – it has been an anonymous process and that has been so refreshing in eradicating the ‘clique’ atmosphere that is so prevalent in group shows, particularly among and post-art schools. The artists selected for this issue are coming from all around the UK and the rest of the world, from all different backgrounds, age groups and experience. We look forward to seeing what relationships will be made and what conversations will be had!

How do you select the submissions to the exhibition and publication for each colour theme? What are your parameters?

It was important to us that the submission process took the form of an open call. The focus on the aesthetic and the visual minimises the exclusivity of a word based language and we have submissions from UK and international artists. We wanted to encourage any and all artists to be involved – whether they have an established practice or not, and this has generated such a diverse selection. There were no restrictions on the submission so it’s been a really good challenge to make the curation work with such a variety. It has been fascinating to see how some works are uncannily similar and some seem to particularly stand out, so the show will present a combination; many works complement each other and some are complete curveballs!

What do you hope to achieve with each new show and publication?

Right now we’re in the midst of Red Issue and are learning a lot from the process; we certainly hope to take what we learn to improve each consecutive issue. What’s been perhaps the most exciting part so far has been the variety and diversity of the contributors, and how refreshingly non-exclusive the whole process has felt. We really hope each new show and publication operates in this way!

CHROMA: Red Issue opens 21.01.16 at Safehouse1, 139 Copeland Road, Peckham, London SE15 3SN. Open until 24.01.16.

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