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Live from the Gallery: the Challenge of Giving Tours of Video Installations


Adaptation is, above all, a space that requires a significant amount of time to prepare for tours. With other art forms (i.e. painting, sculpture) it is possible to have rich, meaningful discussions about an object with a tour group even if you are not especially familiar with the piece. This is possible because the shared experience of discovery can spark wonderful insights and probing questions.

Somehow, video installations require a deeper relationship with or understanding of each installation on a personal level before the docent can facilitate a gallery experience for a tour group. Maybe this is related to the time-based, continuously in-flux nature of the medium. Additional challenges for docents using video installations on tours include timing one’s approach to the piece to ensure that the tour group experiences it from the beginning; making the difficult decision of whether or not to watch video installations in their entirety (or, in the case of the Herrera, for a predetermined amount of time); and finding a suitable place to discuss the video installation after viewing it so as not to disturb other patrons.

For all you tour-givers out there, we invite you to share your stories about touring video installation. What was the most surprising thing, good or bad, that happened?

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