Today I want to talk about how the digital medium, at least when it comes to photography, can be of great assistance to you when trying to exhibit internationally.
The big problem with other mediums, such as painting and sculpture, especially in regards to exhibiting, is transport. How do you transport a painting internationally for an exhibition? What happens if it gets damaged or lost? Not to mention the cost. These are all things that make it hard to do any kind of international show unless you are working with a big museum, and even then, as an emerging artist, they are going to devote less of their budget to your work than to artists with larger names.
This is where photography, as a theoretically infinitely reproducible medium, has a big advantage. I have now had 12 international shows that I can think of. However, I only transported work for four of those (and luckily I was not responsible for the cost). The great thing about photography is that it does not need to be transported as a finished piece. Many times (as a photographer working with museums) it is possible to ship unmounted prints to the exhibition space and have them finish the pieces once they arrive. This drastically reduces shipping costs. For example, a set of my large prints (40×50) that need to be shipped to Europe might cost $70-100 rolled up in a tube. To contrast that, after a shipping crate is built, the total cost of getting work to Europe can run as high as $4,000. And then the work still has to come back. Not to mention the hassles with customs brokers and trying to convince customs that the work need not be taxed as it is for exhibition only.
The crazy thing is that when I send prints to be finished by a museum, there needs to be a stipulation that the work is destroyed upon the exhibition’s closing. Now, I know a lot of artists might cringe at having their work destroyed, and I suppose it would be a legitimate concern if that art was a one-of-a-kind piece, but that’s not how my work is. Especially because of my access to Columbia’s printing facilities, it is actually quite cheap and easy for me to print out prints to ship. So, for many of these exhibitions, I just have the galleries or museums make exhibition-only pieces. And I have been lucky enough in the past to use exhibition pieces already on exhibit in one venue in a second venue after the first exhibit has closed.
If you are flexible, working this way really opens up the options for exhibiting. The whole world can be a goal.