Exhibition Activity: Achievements and Challenges

Issue #1 • 1391

Art Exhibition Directorate is a unique museum institution in terms of its profile. Having in its possession a significant stock of contemporary pictorial and decorative-applied art items, from the moment of its establishment (1959) it has been extensively engaged in organizing stationary and mobile exhibitions in close cooperation with museums and art galleries of the Ministry for Culture and Sports of Uzbekistan, CIS republics and foreign museum institutions.

In 1997 the Directorate was incorporated into the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan, but this has not changed the museum status and functions of our institution. In my view, the most significant factor that gives a fresh spur to its operations is the resolution of the issue concerning the reconstruction of the oldest exhibition hall in Tashkent located at Akhunbabaev St., 4. During two decades that preceded the reconstruction, this building of unique parameters erected in 1943 in the centre of Tashkent based on the design of the architect A. I. Petelin, was closed to the public and used only as a base for preparing mobile exhibitions, storing exhibits and exhibition equipment. Before this exhibition facility – now known as the Contemporary Art Centre and the Tashkent House of Photography – was put into operation, practically all exhibitions organized by the Directorate had been held on somebody else’s territory: in museums, galleries, lobbies of concert halls and other public buildings, with everything that follows. The organizers of numerous exhibitions remained ‘off screen’, in the shadow of luckier owners of exhibition premises. Perhaps this explains that fact that until recently very few people had an idea about laborious activity of the Art Exhibition Directorate or knew about the institution at all.

Over half a century of its existence, despite numerous organizational rearrangements, including several changes of location, the Art Exhibition Directorate has won strong recognition in the museum community not only in Uzbekistan, but also in many foreign countries as a worthy professional partner capable of implementing diverse and challenging exhibition projects. Every year it runs over 50 exhibitions ranging from small-scale stationary and mobile expositions in Uzbekistan to major international exhibition events in which it participated, such as “Uzbekistan on the Silk Road” in Stuttgart (Germany, 1995), “Art and Culture of the Temurid Epoch” (France, 1996), “Expo-2000″ in Hanover, etc.

The last decade, during which the Art Exhibition Directorate became part of the Academy of Arts, and the reconstruction of its own exhibition hall that was completed in 2001, have been a new qualitative turn in the creative activity of the institution. The reconstruction of the hall was preceded by many years of preparation: the concept that was being developed envisaged functional diversity of the facility: not only an exhibition hall with appropriate storage space, ancillary premises, academic offices and a library, but also a place with a possibility to give lectures, run musical, histrionic and other performances and concerts related to exhibitions – that is, the functionality of a contemporary art centre in the broadest sense.

The Centre, with many years of experience of the staff and the richest collection of the pieces of art, after having acquired its own exhibition premises, realized its potential in the original exhibition projects that immediately drew attention to the Centre from a broad audience and made it one of the popular exhibition halls in the country. False modesty aside, one can say that many initiatives of the Art Exhibition Directorate that were implemented over these years in the Contemporary Art Centre have become a model exhibition practice for our colleagues. Operations of the Directorate were not limited to the work in the Contemporary Art Centre.

Exhibitions were held in the Central Exhibition Hall of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan, in the new Fine Arts Gallery, in the exhibition hall of Ilkhom Theatre and in many other exhibition facilities in our city. Starting from 2006, the Art Exhibition Directorate has changed its place of residence: from now on it is the Central Exhibition Hall of the Academy of Arts. Different place does not mean simply the change of address: new exposition environment calls for a change in the exhibition practice and the development of a new image, and this is not an easy process, it takes time.

How exhibitions are created? What is an artistically arranged exposition and how is it different from simply hanging or installing objects of art in the space of a hall? Why some expositions, just like pieces of art they exhibit, leave a mark in our conscience and touch our soul, while others pass without trace?

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