Cover image of the review
Nicholas Currie, *Shame*, 2020, acrylic, house paint, paint maker, graphite on found chip board, 43cm x 46cm. Courtesy of the artist.

The Waiting Room

10 Oct 2020
22 Sep - 25 Sep 2020

In her 1995 essay, ‘The Art Museum as Ritual’, art historian Carol Duncan describes how visitors to art galleries engage in a kind of ritual by visiting these spaces. In discussing the act of physically attending—including the intention to visit as well as the standards of behaviour adopted while visiting—Duncan writes that art museums “enable individuals to achieve liminal experience—to move beyond the psychic constraints of mundane existence, step out of time, and attain new, larger perspectives.”

This liminal experience is ours when we visit an art gallery or museum and is akin to the phrase “once upon a time” that begins so many stories. Everything I recount after saying once upon a time is set aside, removed from the mundane and rendered liminal. The term “liminal” is often described as “being in-between” something or other, but it can also mean “being set aside” or bracketed off from the normal existence we experience every day when we brush our teeth or put something down on the table, for example. These actions in themselves aren’t anything to do with art, but place them within the once upon a time of the art gallery and all of a sudden they present the potential to transform our perspectives on the world with the same force as a moralising fairy tale. It goes without saying, of course, that you have first to be allowed out of your house.

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