Tate Liverpool’s Artistic Director Francesco Manacorda discusses the ‘magazine principle’, a new approach to how a gallery and its programme might relate to audiences
In a recent article, I discussed how it is our intention at Tate Liverpool to ‘invite our audience to ask their own questions in response to the works on display’. Alongside this idea we have also developed a new approach to how different, seemingly unrelated exhibitions, learning and public programme in the museum, might communicate with each other.
Rather like a magazine in which you can find different articles linked to the publication’s specialised area or themed around the same topic, every season we aim to combine together various interconnected segments into a single experience when you visit the gallery. We have called this our ‘magazine principle’ and it informs all of Tate Liverpool’s activities. You can consider our programme, therefore, a seasonal publication in which exhibitions, learning activities and talks are like articles in the same issue.
This approach bleeds into our physical seasonal publication, Compass, which serves as a user guide to the three-dimensional magazine we produce – in the form of exhibitions – every three months inside our galleries. The floor plan in Compass looks like a table of contents and the articles discuss various threads to follow across different floors of our galleries. When we buy a magazine we might do so because of a particular article we know about and then discover others on related topics we were previously unaware of. As such, my hope is that different articles in our magazine will be starting points for the discovery of related ideas, questions or artworks.
For example, this season focuses in particular on the relationship between words and images and how their continuous transformation and migration impact on everyday life. Our current exhibition Keywords traces the relationship between Raymond Williams’s book, Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, and a generation of artists who explored how language can shape us. In our DLA Piper Series: Constellations displays, which chart and suggest links between different artists and their works, you can explore this recurrent theme; in particular the constellation around feminist artist Barbara Kruger’s Who owns what? 1991-2012 explores pictures’ ability to define our relationship with reality. In the Wolfson Gallery, Richard Hawkins: Hijikata Twist also provides us with a guide of sorts. Using the Tate collection as a starting point, and legendary Japanese avant-garde choreographer Tsatsumo Hijikata as a navigator, Hawkins’s works map how images and forms can migrate, and sometimes be mis-understood in order to be better understood. Ultimately we designed this issue to reflect on the importance of how visual culture is translated, filtered and interpreted.
For each new season, audiences will be able to explore links and common threads across different exhibitions in different sections of the museum. In summer 2014’s (from 6 June) Mondrian and his studios: Abstraction into the World, Dutch painter Piet Mondrian shares the fourth floor with Indian artist Nasreen Mohamedi, making it possible to identify and explore associations between artists working on different continents who each came to develop their practice away from a figurative style, toward abstraction.
I hope you will find our magazine principle, and the links it suggests, both useful and interesting, but also that you find your personal way through the building and its content, one that has real meaning and relevance to you.