Cancelled exhibition still managed to pull in the visitors

Almost 100 public proposals were put on display after a creative conceptual gesture.

They were staged in Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art’s Gallery 1 during the five month run of Marlie Mul’s This Exhibition Has Been Cancelled.

After the Dutch-born artist elected to cancel her exhibition in Royal Exchange Square and requested that the space remain empty throughout what would have been the exhibition’s run, the public were invited to propose creative ways to utilise the space.

Activities delivered by individuals, organisations and community groups ranged from tango, comedy, and human spirographs, to a childrens play day, a blogging workshop, and a songwriter’s open mic event.

A number of thought-provoking installations marked events including World Refugee Day, World Hepatitis Day, and Black History Month.

GoMA also hosted a special Draw Together event in the gallery space in June, as part of a nation-wide series of Great Get Together activities celebrating the memory of Jo Cox MP.

This cancelled exhibition offered the local community an opportunity to use the gallery space for a range of activities that might not traditionally take place in the building as well as offering a chance for local artists to display in the iconic gallery. An overwhelming number of proposals were received, which led to all available places being fully booked.

Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art’s Gallery 1 staged a five month run of Marlie Mul’s This Exhibition Has Been Cancelled

Almost 100 proposals were staged, which were seen by more than 106,000 visitors.

The only visible components of Mul’s show were billboards advertising the exhibition’s cancellation. This provided space to involve GoMA’s existing audience and created exciting opportunities to engage new audiences. This situation offered visitors a platform for creating their own in-gallery events and a chance to contribute to conversations that developed in the
space left by Mul’s cancelled exhibition.

Mul’s conceptual gesture in this project was to act as an implicit critique of what is displayed within museums and galleries and the process that leads to it being placed there. By removing traditional content and opening the space for public use, Mul aimed to question the relevance of an art exhibition in 2017.

Removing the exhibition from the gallery space forces us toquestion the value and function of cultural institutions such as GoMA in contemporary society today.

Museum Manager at GoMA, Gareth James, said: ‘It has been fantastic to see Gallery 1 used in this way as a civic space and the feedback from our visitors has been overwhelmingly positive. Some even marvelled anew at the building and appreciated the opportunity to focus on the beautiful architecture of the space.’

This project draws on GoMA’s experience exploring the future of public arts institutions addressed by Atelier Public (2011 and 2014) and Ellie Harrison’s Dark Days (2015).

Marlie Mul currently lives in Berlin. She studied Architectural History and Theory at the Architectural Association in London, and Fine Arts and Fashion and Textile Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Maastricht.