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Located on San Francisco's Embarcadero, Pier 24 Photography provides a quiet, contemplative environment for viewing photographic works. Pier 24 Photography houses the permanent collection of the Pilara Foundation, which is dedicated to collecting, preserving and exhibiting photography.
What makes non-profits space so influential in the artworld?
For most people, the main channel they access to art would be visiting a museum, or explore idiosyncrasies and singular artists via small, private the gallery. However, there’re non-profit art organizations which may not be the first choice for people to getting know the artworld, but they fill the gaps left by the commercial and public sector, which means non-profits can be much more responsive to the needs of the arts community as well as the large community from the general public. In other words, with the most funding from government and private donation, non-profits are less controlled by the capital market and more dedicated to advocating issues such as art education, art activism, and promotion of unrepresented artists than museums and commercial galleries. That is also an obvious practice shift that more and more artists and communities and are considering building local connections through introducing their works to the neighborhoods and cultural districts, in which nonprofit organizations play an important role in negotiating and operating with adopting modern business methods such as exclusive memberships and limited appointments, also widely apply digital media for promoting, except just grants. We can say this trend also brings a new perspective of appreciating art, which is different from going to the museum with anticipation of “understanding” high-end artworks by captions written on the walls or audio guides, then end up leaving with an exhausted mood, regreting that you can’t appreciate all the artworks even you’ve spent all day in that space.
Pier 24: the value of viewing pictures
As a result, many non-profit organizations are trying to provide a more intimate experience for audiences, either reconstruct the exhibition space to fit in the neighborhood, design diverse public programs to bring engagements from the society, or explore the flexibility of operating a gallery. One fascinating example is Pier 24 in San Fransico. Known as “the largest exhibition space in the world dedicated solely to photography”, in 2010, Pier 24 begun with The Inaugural Exhibition featuring genres prominently demonstrate the twentieth-century American photography and represent a wide range of emotional documentaries from Diane Arbus’s portrait series to Lee Friedlander’s social landscape.
Inheriting the mission of Pilara Foundation, which is dedicated to collecting, preserving and exhibiting photography work, the root of Pier 24 is to trace back to the idea of collection, that is, to provide a simple, universal feeling of enjoying pictures no matter the audience is a professional photographer, an artist, or just simply visual animals like you and me. Intending to create an image-center experience in the gallery, the way of seeing become the most important thing drives Pier 24 to discard the traditional method of representing artwork. Through of limiting the number of visitors per 2 hours, the feedback from the audiences at Pier 24 has been toward to contemplation and intimacy, furthermore, by removing the wall texts but provide a guide of a bit of contextual information of the works in the front desk, Pier 24 curates the work to become more open to being interpreted by the audience, or allow the audience to focus on the aesthetic of images rather than possess presumptions or bias before watching the pictures. In other words, the sense of solitude but freedom created by Pier 24 would inspire visitors and artists to perform self-reflection when appreciating artworks, which may lead to a long term connection with art and exhibition space.
On the other hand, In terms of the collection of works, is it fair to say that Pier 24 is the only place for photographers?
In Manhattan, New York City, International Center of Photography, or ICP, has been leading the world of photography since 1974 as a formal institution for visual culture, photography history, and art education. In 2016 ICP reopens in a new home on the Bowery and seems to claim a new orientation by including more shops and galleries for new media, not just traditional photography.
However, unlike Pier 24, the new space for ICP didn’t provide a better experience for understanding the context of artworks, rather, it toward to a more entertaining purpose for audience to feel Compare to the first show experience at Pier 24, ICP’s Public, Private, Secret aggregated digital media artworks and photographs they’re perfectly organized regarding historical context. Although it’s interesting to see multiple media featuring still/moving images in an exhibition, the pleasure of seeing may just like reviewing pictures on Instagram and the memory of artworks will soon disappear.
In conclusion, the purpose and the mission drives non-profits art organizations are to create an alternative exhibition space for emerging artists who don't present their works in the commercial sector, or preserve a specific type of artwork and collections during some important historical periods. Not only demonstrates the importance and value of its photography collections, but Pier 24 also emphasizes a non-profit art organization could bring inner connections for audiences and advocates the idea that viewers are not educated to read art, but encouraged to feel art in a free will. The stronger connections of artists, curators, viewers and the communities in the Bay Area makes Pier 24 a most influential space for art.