Let's talk straight here: we have a problem. And the problem is that running a gallery has a lot of costs involved. Many artist run spaces have solved this issue by opening in the spare room of their own apartment, but there is an even more clever way to fulfil your urgency to open up a contemporary art space: the Minigallery! A minigallery is small, easy to clean and repaint, and it can even be portable! Probably the most famous one is the Cereal Art mini version of The Wrong Gallery, a sort of doorway that Maurizio Cattelan, Ali Subotnick and Massimiliano Gioni ran in New York up until a few years ago. The original door is now inside the Tate Modern in London, whilst a thousand copies in scale 1:6 are scattered around the world, making exhibitions inside other exhibitions.
But minigalleries existed way before that, and the first example of a conceptual space is probably Marcel Duchamp's Boîte-en-valise. Built around 1935, it was thought up as a kind of curriculum of his major works, questioning the very idea of “original” art work. The dismountable space made by Mark Staff Brandle has a similar approach. His Collapsible Kunsthalle is easily transported in a suitcase and reassembled at any mundane occasion with a new group show of works especially thought up for this mini-event. The smallest gallery is probably the Nanomuseum, thought up by star curator Hans Ulrich Obrist in the mid nineties, a tiny pocket size double frame that held exhibitions by top artists Gilbert & George, Yoko Ono, Christian Boltanski, Gabriel Orozco and so on.
Canadian artist Anitra Hamilton also made its portability the main idea behind her minigallery, together with the mocking name. Her Satchel Gallery is a bright yellow bag that exhibits one artist's object at one time, and gets taken out during the opening of another gallery, usually in Toronto, where she resides.
From Japan Tsuyoski Osawa's cardboard box Nasubi Gallery to the San Francisco Velcro Gallery, from the super conceptual 0gms Gallery in Sofia, Bulgaria to the travelling MediaPackBoard gallery of Valerie Le Blanc, to the cupboard Ohm Museum inside a Museum in Bologna, Italy, the list of minigalleries is long and exciting, and spaces are scattered throughout the world. Thankfully in Halifax, Canada, someone tried to make some order and organized the first World Portable Gallery Convention at the Eyelevel Gallery last September. The winner of the prize for the weirdest space is certainly the Alopecia Gallery of Gordon B. Isnor. Located in a hole on his beard, artists are asked to use any possible mean to hang their work from there!
This can only be topped by the Museum of Mental Objects, founded by artist Judy Freya Sibayan. Here is the concept: “Artists are invited to whisper art ideas to the curators. The curators and the artists will keep these artworks as mere memories. They will never be documented or represented in any other shape or form. MoMO can be invited to recite these works and the names of the artists on condition that no video or audio recordings will be made of the performance. There will be no photographs taken of the event. The audience who will experience the artworks will be requested to do the same. These works will therefore exist wholly dependent on how well the artists and curators keep them in their memory or how memorable these works are. MoMO is only a keeper of mental objects. MoMO exhibits no visible artworks, thus there will be no objects to be commodified.” Can you get more cerebral than this?