A Day in the World
A Day in the World was curated by Val Williams, Brigitte Lardinois and Marcus Eriksson for the EOH Foundation in Stockholm. It opened at the Kulturhuset in Stockholm and at the Museum of World Cultures in Gothenburg in 2013.
Curating A Day in the World
Williams and Lardinois were invited to curate an exhibition of photographs that were collected via a worldwide public appeal, on 15 May 2012 by the Stockholm-based foundation 'Expressions of Humankind". They were joined, after the initial period of research, by the Swedish curator Marcus Eriksson and worked as a team, with each having equal, but varying roles in the curation process. Photographs of daily life, according to a number of themes made early in the project by Williams and EOH’s Director, Ayperi Ecer , were submitted by professional and amateur photographers via a dedicated website on 15 May, 2012.
The exhibition opened simultaneously at the Kulturhuset in Stockholm and the Museum of Humankind in Goteborg. It was designed to interest and engage the large but very different audiences that the two venues attracted, in two Swedish cities, in two very different spaces.
The research process was conducted through regular meetings in Stockholm and London, and through an extensive Skype and e- mail conversation. In addition to this, there were numerous visits to the venues, and discussions with the curatorial and technical staff of both institutions. As well as discussing the technical requirements of the exhibitions, there was extensive discussion about the nature of the venues, both of which were large and physically prominent. Kulturhuset is a long-established multi-arts venue in the centre of Stockholm containing art galleries, cinemas, the theatres and a library, while the Museum of World Cultures is a new and prestigious development in the centre of Goteborg, which is in the process of establishing and defining its audiences and has an important focus on education, of which this exhibition was a part. Kulturhuset had had a long engagement with photographic exhibitions.
The work was hung in discrete sections according to the core themes of the original call for photographs. The curators wrote an introductory statement to the exhibition, plus narrative text throughout the exhibition. A central component of this narrative was the use of texts written by the participants themselves. Design elements of the exhibition were key to the project, and the main exhibits were printed, with text pieces, on large cloth banners, which were suspended from metal bars. As well as providing a monumental feel to the installation, this means of production was designed to create a portable exhibition, where works could simply be rolled up and transported. This has made the exhibition available to venues which have only limited infrastructure and funds, as well as to traditional spaces. In contrast to this, the two Swedish venues contained a large circular exhibition wall, which enclosed a selection of the many portraits which were submitted, and which provided both a social and a contemplative space within the exhibition. In Goteborg, a central viewing sofa was constructed, encouraging visitors to pause and socialize. The curators at the Museum of World Cultures were particularly interested in audience engagement, particularly via groups of school students. Their interventions resulted in the large floor map, made up of photographs from the project, being designed and constructed.
The process of making ‘A Day in the World’ was experimental and innovative. Selecting from ‘send-in’ projects is notoriously difficult, and the exhibitions that result from these projects are often bland and disjointed. The challenge involved in the process of making ‘A Day in the World’ was to construct an exhibition which was both accessible to a wide range of audience, yet which also defined and explored the notion of ‘Day in the Life’ projects, which have been recurrent since the 1980s and which also lent dignity and gravitas to what were, in the main, amateur photographs.