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Hypothetically Speaking...



It’s called a ‘hypothetical project’ – that exhibition that you would choose to produce had you unlimited resources and capability.  How would it work and what would be its functions?  We can’t speak for everyone but presumably you’d first select a world-renowned venue that has an international reputation.  The temptation to put on a show of monumental objects that demonstrate a grand, historic narrative might just prove too much.  We have to remember that part of the reason we’re doing this is for the satisfaction of gallery-going audiences.  Research must complement this, and vice versa.


The question implied within the hypothetical project is one of engagement.  Can the museum – one without infrastructural barriers – support an exhibition that has the perfectly symmetrical balance of display, politics, community and education?  A further, more important question, might be how can we accurately assess the strategies and impact of each of these distinct artistic, curatorial, and educative processes? Unavoidably, suggesting a hypothetical project is a path of high concept and high activity.


What if, hypothetically speaking, the whole point of the exhibition was to interrogate the efficacy of strategy?  If we had a specific display as a starting point and over the course of a set period of time that display was subject to change, based on a specifically-designed series of public programmes that called on the expertise of the exhibitions visitors?  What might we be able to learn about the works on display (and the works that could leave the display, as well as those that were under consideration for potential inclusion), what might we be able learn about our educative processes, our engagement strategies, and about the nature of the functions of the museum itself?




What is purlove?


purlove is the title of an online exhibition curated by Arcadia_Missa that forms the core part of a six-month online residency that launched last month on  The exhibition contains moving image, HTML and text work by eight artists and is the first stage of our own hypothetical project.


A limit to resources mean that we can’t hire the New Museum for half a year (or less) but we can offer a section of our website to Arcadia_Missa to present an exhibition that must fit within a specific boundary – that is, every month the exhibition must become subject to an interjection that requires it to disrupt its display.  So far, purlove (in terms of viewing figures) has been’s most successful exhibition in a year, but how successful it will remain when, with the publication of this article, we limit the navigation of the works so that the user is forced to follow a specifically curated narration?  How will reading of the show be influenced when we invite external writers and curators to present their own evaluations of its perceived ‘success’?  Can these aspects combined have an affect on the tangible aspects of the show: its display, presentation and critical reasoning?


The objects have been built and they have been made available unhindered thus far to the viewing public.  purlove was curated by Arcadia_Missa aware of the object as the ‘commodity-thing’, as described by Katja Deifenbach,[1] ‘The experience of commodities becomes more and more immaterial and biopolitical…This has become the primary image of commodity: an affect, a lifestyle…’ ‘purlove is the spectacle and syntax of appropriation (of object, of img-txt)’, responds Rózsa Zita Farkas, ‘and this is based in the notion that loneliness has a part in producing the shared subjectivities that we communicate through social networks, and that act as a form on which to deviate.  purlove explores how this plays into the reproduction of the self/the collectivising of subjectivities.’


And thus these works reveal themselves as objects with specific and non-specific value.  It is vital to the integrity of the criticality of the residency that its devices and rationales are made explicit.


It is a product of affect and the on-going commoditisation of encounter.

[1] Katja Diefenbach, The Spectral Form of Value, Ghost-Things and Relations of Forces,