On March 9th, I have posted an article about a collective of artists called Dialogue. I met them before they were heading to SCHMUCK in Munich (which is the oldest exhibition of contemporary jewellery in the world). You can find this article here.
Having interviewed them on what they were planning to do in Munich, I ended my post with the following project: “And I am really interested to see how people will react to the three different spaces in Munich. I have asked Dialogue Collective to gather as much information as possible: pictures, people’s reactions, audience feedback and we have agreed to meet again soon to debrief. Rendezvous in a few weeks…”
As promised, we met again and they gave me a full debriefing of what happened in Munich. I have selected some of their pictures (with their permission) to illustrate the interview.
IB: Did the exhibition attract a lot of people ?
DC: It was a big success: around 200 people came to see us during the 3 days and we sold more pieces than last year, which is a good sign as well. Two amongst us have been selected by a gallery to be exhibited in COLLECT in May.
IB: How did people react to the different spaces?
DC: the Shoppery was right at the entrance so people gathered there first. It was very lively, like the kitchen in a house party where people hang around. After a while, they usually went checking the Gallery space and then wandered back. They were touching pieces, picking up stuff and were trying them. They seemed to feel comfortable.
IB: how was the atmosphere in the Gallery?
DC: much quieter. People felt less inclined to touch pieces. They usually didn’t stay very long, but as they had already been in the shoppery first, they were probably less intimidated and some asked questions.
IB: how did you manage to differentiate the Shoppery and the Gallery?
DC: the Shoppery had price tags, pieces were displayed on tables sitting in paper drawn presentation boxes, we even had a fake till in cardboard and people were standing behind the tables. We think it was quite obvious. In the Gallery, the space was huge, there were no prices, no names and no explanation. Only one member of our team was staying there in case some visitors had questions. The Shoppery might be compared to the gift shop in a gallery or museum where people can buy souvenirs and postcards.
Images of the Shoppery:
Images of the Gallery:
IB: what about the games?
DC: they were really successful. The choice of games was very good. We had them all the time during the 3 days and some people came back to play again. There was a kind of competition between some of the visitors as well. We had a sawing game (particularly liked by the jewellers), a throwing game, a chest game (a guy stayed 20 minutes to win it), a matchbox game (silver matches were randomly added to some boxes and people could win them) and plenty others. At the private view, we had to throw people out at 11PM!
IB: don’t you think those games were distracting people from looking at the works?
DC: No it wasn’t, on the contrary it builds up a rapport with people that wouldn’t have happened otherwise: this is what Dialogue is all about. It was actually great fun: everyone enjoyed it, like a party, allowing more interaction with people.
IB: is it becoming a kind of signature for Dialogue?
DC: People’s feedback was that we were very different from the other shows in Munich. So, in a sense, you might indeed say games and fun are part of our signature. However, for the future events, if we don’t have games we will try to come up with something equivalent. It has to be done cleverly to avoid too much distraction and keep a connection with our aims in Dialogue.
IB: your logo was very strong and visual. How important was it?
DC: we did much better than last year. This time we had a very powerful logo but a lot of freedom in the show. We gave away flyers although communication is not easy in Munich: no website, programs distributed late … But with the X on its orange background, people recognised us easily and we were very pleased to see our badges worn by some people in the street!
IB: did you give any explanation about the treasure hunt, which was the starting point of your show?
DC: we displayed a board providing some explanation on the back of the entrance door, although we are not sure anyone read it. At the same time, we didn’t want to say too much as we prefer to leave doors open but not force people to enter. The “dialogue” occurs when people actually push the door and start asking questions, which they did a lot in Munich.
IB: anything you would like to improve in the future?
DC: we grow organically and we improve every time we organise a new event. This year we were much better organised and we had more energy and confidence, but we could have done better in terms of displaying names, artist statements and price lists in the Gallery space.
IB: what next for Dialogue Collective?
DC: we are maybe thinking about having a Shoppery in London, as we invented the concept and would like to test it outside Munich which remains a special place. It could also be a pop-up shop with a different name. Munich 2012 is on the agenda as well as an event in Normandy (France) in July 2012. It is time for us to spread and maybe to have split Dialogue to deal with different issues, one with commercialisation for example. The time is right to expand further and to push the boundaries….