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How to get your degree show reviewed
Whilst youre working towards your degree show its important to think ahead to where you will get the right sort of critical response to the artwork thats finally displayed. This starts now by building professional relationships with curators, writers, artists and peers.
Make the right choices and act now
Where to look, how to approach
Think of a writer, curator, an artist with a little more experience or a peer from another course as a possible reviewer for your show. a-n's unedited sites are a great place to start:
Degrees unedited is an important place for finding someone, who might have more of an insight in to you work, to review your show. A fellow blogger for instance, who has given time to comment on your work already, could be the right person to ask. When someone is working on the same level as you with a similar budget make sure you approach things professionally. Set an in kind transaction with someone else in their final year: offer them train fare, some lunch and a tour of local galleries in return for a review of your show, you can then do the same for them.
Search for Degrees unedited bloggers »
Interface has a list of reviewers that have previously uploaded content to the site. Search for one in your region and invite them to the Preview, or offer to give them a tour on the day you are invigilating. If you approach a writer who has already begun to establish themselves it's important you give them some sort of incentive. Chances are you can offer to widen their exposure: if you have a good level of marketing for your degree show you can use these channels to get more readers for their writing. Otherwise a nominal fee can be offered, club together between you and throw in lunch (interview time) too.
Search for Interface reviewers »
Artists talking has a wealth of well versed artists working on their own projects. Browse what's on offer and see if there is anyone with a similar eye to you - they may well offer critical review in the form of mentorship. Approaching someone on the blogs can give valuable insight into how you can function as an artist after graduation. There are a few MA students using Projects unedited and they would be good people to approach. Similarly, approaching artists who previously studied at your institution would be a good way of gaining critical feedback.
Search for Artists talking bloggers »
Things to remember
- Save money by working with 'in kind' transactions, offer them something in return
- Retain impartiality to maintain the right sort of criticality
- Keep a visitors book in the exhibition, then use positive comments on your work in your CV
Many reviews published on the a-n site are done so without images. As press officers - as well as featured artists - in your show, it is important you get either a photographer to take good installation shots or that you have a go yourself. That way when someone reviews your show they can access good-quality images that can be published too, making the article more vibrant and professional.
If you begin to think about this now, you're not only considering how your work will be received - which in turn will affect how you approach the work in the first place - but you are also giving yourself a chance to build valuable relationships with writers and other artists.
Such relationships will support your practice through and after graduation, and gaining good critical feedback from a voice you respect - rather than a voice that is purely fashionable or institutional - means you can build on the work you have produced and have more confidence to keep making work after your studies.
Good critical feedback that is well managed and disseminated will also put you in good stead when building an artist CV, an essential point in developing your work and gaining more opportunities.
Tried and tested
In 2011 ex-Degrees blogger Antonia Dewhurst used this article to negotiate a review with Anders Pleass, Head of Exhibitions at Mostyn Art Gallery in Llandudno, Wales.
Read about how she got on here »
First published: a-n.co.uk March 2011
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