Platform 7: Getting a Leg Up
An exhibition facilitated by Somewhereto_ asks whether artists can get down off their soapboxes and work collaboratively as one voice
How many artists can you get on a soapbox? Platform 7, opening later this month, will showcase the work of seven young artists. But it’s the curators who are in ample supply here – the head count runs to one per artist. The show, with this pretty much unheard-of ratio, is the result of a nationwide call by Somewhereto_ for artists and curators aged 16-25 years to collaborate on an exhibition. No prior experience of exhibiting or curating was necessary – the participants received mentoring.
Inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Somewhereto_ is a one-stop shop for young people seeking a place or space for just about any cultural or sporting activity. Just give them your spec and they’ll match you to an available venue.
In association with The Skinny, Platform 7 will show at Edinburgh’s Whitespace before touring to Manchester and Liverpool. The show reacts to the showbiz aspect of the art world and explores the body as a site of identity and action.
In a canny move, the group has opted for a self-reflexive approach, shining a torch on the nature of their selfsame endeavour. The show will play with the idea of championing an artist, placing them under a spotlight and providing them with a soapbox to transmit from. Seeing the body as a site of identity and action, the artists pledge to question what constitutes ‘the body’ and what that term can mean – can fourteen individuals really work together as one?
For some of the group – in line with the aims of the project – it will be their first time exhibiting or curating. Yasemin Hacioglu knew little about curating when she signed up to the project, but thought the experience would inform her Art History studies.
"It's interesting to see how the practicalities of drawing an audience and the substance of the works is not an attempt to find great new things and stick them together for an audience to gape at – which is what my art history so far leaves an impression of – but rather, that it is collaborative."
For curator Gordon Douglas, the learning curve was in working remotely as a team – although the outcome was far from soapbox curating.
"Having us all living in different areas nationwide has been very difficult, forcing us to use social networking sites to establish links and to create discussions online rather than in real life. That being said, it’s been highly rewarding getting to talk to such a focused group of people, most of whom are interested in the same things as I am and equally ambitious," says Douglas.
Exhibiting her work for the first time, graphic designer Martina Martin will use the opportunity to investigate the relationship between artist, artwork and viewer. She will present colourful, geometric paintings created using digital programs to generate simple codes and algorithms.
Yuan Zhang has explored literally what the body can be, creating a hypothetical jaunt through time and space to human organs, opening “the wormhole in our hearts.” Glossy black Jesmonite hands with fingers splayed reach out disturbingly, betraying a tiny hole in the centre of the palm. Zhang is also considering the potential of an audience to bring her work into the realms of performance and workshops.
“All the artists we chose look at the body as a platform of identity and action, and by challenging the idea of what a young artist’s voice/body means in today’s culture, we are asking whether seven curators and seven artists can come together and exist as one voice, one vision.” says curator Rachael Paterson-Smith.