2013, April 27, Rome, Italy
International Slow Art Day 2013
By Elizabeth Genovesi, Founding Director of ARTROM Network
What is Slow Art you ask?
Slow Art is a contemplative approach to observing art.
Research has shown that most visitors to galleries and museums spend, on the average, not more than 8 seconds looking at a work of art! What can you possibly see or feel in 8 seconds? Art is about communication and in 8 seconds there is only enough time to introduce your self and say hello to an artwork. A significant connection cannot be established in such a short time. The process of Slow Art simply asks that we let go of this aspect of hurrying.
The first time we experimented with Slow Art at our Artist Presentation Space in Rome, Italy was in 2010. As the first ‘home’ gallery in the city of Rome, we were open to and looking for alternative methods to connect our guests to the works in the exhibitions.
We had noticed in the photos of our inaugurations that the many people had their backs turned to the works as they sipped their wine and conversed with others. Ok, yes it’s a party and an important moment to make connections but we work hard to create a quality exhibition to present the works of artists we feel have something to communicate. It just felt like something wasn’t working.
So we began to ask, “How can we turn people around to face the work and put their focus there.” Dafne Crocella, manager of the Events section of ARTROM Network came upon Slow Art as she browsed internet. A week later we experimented with the process in participation with the 2nd International Slow Art Day, 2010. From that time on we have included the Slow Art experience in the calendar of events for every exhibition.
The reason we have done this is because of the incredible consequences we began to see in our guests.
What are the consequences of the Slow Art process?
We began to recognize the value of the Slow Art Process beyond just the contemplative aspect that naturally arises when we take time to really observe. Obviously this is an important result but we realized that there was much more happening than just this. A wonderful and important consequence began to emerge from this process.
Normally when we approach an artwork we perceive it as an object to observe. We stand apart from it and usually judge it in some manner. We like the work or not. We bring all our ‘art baggage (art history, art criticism, investment considerations, etc.)’ to it. We think about it, analyze it and decide if it is good or not.
Through the contemplative process of Slow Art something more can happen. It provides an opportunity to discover what is not available at first glance. After only 5 minutes of focused observation, in which we ask our guests to look and feel while suspending mental judgment, a dialogue begins to form.
The artwork begins to speak to something in you and you in return begin to relate to it. This exchange develops into a ‘dynamic’ relationship, an exchange, a give and take. The artwork moves out of the category of static object and transforms into an ever changing, constantly mutating interaction. This interaction is alive and it is in active relation with the artist and viewer.
We recognize that each time we come to an artwork the conditions are different. One day we are in a good mood, daylight is illuminating the artwork and we see and feel certain colors, shapes, and textures all leading to a flood of pleasurable sensations. Another day we are irritated and anxious and we look at the work at night, lit by a lamp and see hidden dark, sharp brushstrokes that seem to resonate with our mood. Or the artwork may evoke change in us as we contemplate its beauty or form. In other words taking time to look, to gaze, to behold that which is before us creates a real relationship; two parts meeting and connecting in dialogue. Art is communication after all.
This also changes the thought process about purchasing artwork. The considerations, obliviously, always include whether the work can be in harmony with the surrounding atmosphere but after a Slow Art experience during which our guests have lived a real connection to the work they are interested in continuing their dialogue, their exchange in the development of the relationship. It is a wonderful moment when a client buys a work from this prospective.