“Sets and Scenarios” at Nottingham Contemporary

From the archive, a review of “Sets and Scenarios”; an online exhibition curated by the students of the Royal College of Art’s MA Curating Contemporary Art programme…

Rating: 2.5 out of 4.
Words by Alexander Stubbs. First published 9th July, 2020, at Leftlion.

Over the past month there has been a marked change in how Nottingham Contemporary delivers its arts programme to a clamouring audience thirsty for their share of boundary-shifting and thought-provoking art. Sets and Scenarios – curated by students studying on the Royal College of Art’s MA Curating Contemporary Art programme – is the Contemporary’s latest online instalment, building on the successes of Aftermath 2020 and Becoming Part of the Picture – A Loudspeaker Exhibition. Presented as part of a larger graduate project in partnership with UK-based art organisations, Sets and Scenarios is one of five digital exhibitions championing a new wave of artistic talent through collaborative curation and commissions.

Screenshot from Eva Gold’s “For Your Discreet Viewing Pleasure,” 2020. Courtesy of the artist.

A week-long set of film screenings supplement Sets and Scenarios’ live programming, capturing Nottingham Contemporary’s history of inviting the public into a shared space where art and film coexist. Sets and Scenarios grapples with this detachment from the corporeal and manages to provide an element of community interaction and outreach. Providing the audience with a stimulating, however distanced, arts programme is certainly challenging, but is achieved here in an engaging way. If the exhibition achieves nothing else, it has at least proven that the online space is a legitimate platform for the arts.

Sets and Scenarios explores our “heightened proximity to images” and what an increasing exposure to their influence means for our day-to-day experiences. Delivered through three acts and three interludes, Sets and Scenarios plays on the tropes of cinema and theatre in its content and in its layout. The exhibition’s framework unfolds gradually before the viewer: as we navigate through the exhibition, each web page reveals more of the performance, enticing us deeper and deeper into a world of surveillance, privacy, and surrealism. As we delve into this unsettling world, we must ask ourselves: exactly how much control do we have over our own experience?

Enjoyed reading? Head over to Leftlion to read the full review, here.

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