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Review: Snapshot 04: Making in Miniature at the John Lennon Art & Design Building (LJMU)

Snapshot is a permanent display of ever-changing work, displayed in cabinets and on the walls of the first corridor in LJMU’s John Lennon Art & Design Building. It is designed to be seen fleetingly by those walking to the Exhibition Research Lab, or by those waiting to go into classes or lectures.

So I feel more than a little counterproductive in writing about it. I feel like that because it’s not there to be analysed. It is there to be a trigger for other creations, and to open routes for collaborations between courses, lecturers, students, and the public.

None of it really fits together, but there are rotating themes.

Making in Miniature is the provocation to a building’s worth of artists and researchers, for Snapshot 04.

Working on a small scale isn’t rare, but it’s more associated with craft than visual art or critical methods of working. And the exhibition resembles craft because of that. Miniature paintings, artist books and sculpture share minimal space, and share a single impact because of it. The vitrines (there are four, filled with the work of fifteen artists) encase the outcomes. It’s limiting, and restrictive, but also inspiring.

We are not, as viewers, used to considering something so small as a series or looking for connections. Our instinct is to see all of this as one thing. One really interesting counterpoint to that is that so many series of work can be shared at once. If you did have time to stop with it, which you’re admittedly not meant to, you could probably see this as several exhibitions, and each vitrine as several galleries.

By definition, Snapshot 04 is doomed to fail, because the exhibition research question of scale doesn’t work without time. So, you do need to break the rules set by the Snapshot programme slightly.

Don’t go out of your way to see this. Don’t aim to spend time with the work. Don’t stop for too long to take it in. Instead, hope you’re passing. Hope it catches your eye. Because if you do break its own rules, and you do care enough to stop, you’ll find some fascinating provocations, not just in Snapshot 04, but in whatever comes next.

I’ve been to a few things at the Exhibition Research Lab of late (the gallery at the end of the corridor), and it’s always Snapshot that tells me more about the uni and what’s actually happening there. It’s just four vitrines, but they’re worth stopping at.

The project was developed by Dr James Schofield, Dr Hana Leaper and Dr Christine Eyene of Exhibition Research Lab, and is now managed by students from the MA Exhibitions Studies programme.

Snapshot 04 is open until 31st May 2024 at LJMU’s John Lennon Art & Design Building
Words, Kathryn Wainwright

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