Kevin B. Chen
Site view (before exhibition)

Summer 2013
microdot
Belfast, Northern Ireland

microdot, Belfast's new contemporary art gallery, presented two traveling exhibitions by the John Erickson Museum of Art (JEMA) featuring artists Kevin B.Chen and Paraic Leahy. microdot, located in Haymarket Arcade, has a physical footprint of 55 square feet and the idea is to observe art from the outside, looking into the space like a shop or boutique.

JEMA is a location variable museum. It does not have a fixed address and is designed to be portable and movable. In a sense, all of its exhibitions are travelling exhibitions. As part of its Museum Stealth Initiative, JEMA frequently travels to venues that are architecturally larger in scale to gain a greater audience.

Advancements in technology and new ideas in contemporary art are preparing the current visual art audience to witness radically new and diverse exhibition strategies. Ideas associated with Marcel Duchamp’s Boite-en-valise (1941), and Brian O’Doherty’s Inside the White Cube (1976), have (for decades) provided groundbreaking precedents from which to conceive and approach the display of art. Advancements in internet technology, digital imaging, and critical insights related to site-specificity have further expanded possible innovations in art display tactics. As a result, today’s exhibition spaces may be planned, constructed, maintained, and enjoyed with unprecedented levels of affordability, efficiency, and creativity.

JEMA is an example of one possible method of developing an exciting new venue for artists and viewers. It also functions as a model for discussing innovative possibilities toward the development of vital yet affordable art centers. JEMA’s portable quality offers artists an exhibition space that encourages radical experimentation with a low financial overhead. This new museum space is founded on an unwavering belief concerning the quick, decisive and efficient delivering art to the viewing public. This type of activity is an important sign of a vital cultural institution. Many art museums require years to schedule exhibitions. Moving slowly – these institutions function with power and strength but remain bogged down by red tape and expensive exhibitions.

By moving with stealth and agility, JEMA carries out its functions in a portable and thrifty manner. JEMA’s design allows for a greater focus on exhibition planning and a stronger intercommunication between the institution, exhibiting artists, and the viewing public.
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