In September 2015, I became involved in the educational programming of an exhibition devoted to the subversive work of multidisciplinary artist Anna Banana at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. I approached the opportunity as a hybrid: as both an artist and a teacher. The project became an artistic engagement in educational programming which sought to mindfully challenge the behavioral norms and authority of art institutions. As a result of this experience I wrote an essay on performance art pedagogy titled Learning With Bananas which was published in the sequel to the exhibition catalogue.
Exhibition animation implies an exhibition in the state of being brought to life. Through the animator’s engagement, demeanour, costume and activities, the spirit of an exhibition is embodied and performed. By inventing specific personas or characters, an animator integrates their person, along with the audience, into an exhibition’s mythology. This amounts to an act of reinterpretation through which an artist’s work or statement is put into a participatory, spontaneous dialogue with the audience. In this sense, an animator can be thought of as providing another medium, provoking another conversation, which creatively shadows a particular work. The exhibition is personified and becomes something you yourself can become and engage with. Every animation experience is a performance piece — born out of the creative interplay between artist, curator and animator. In these moments the gallery exhibition is transformed into a radical pedagogical space. Yet, the animator does not teach anything per se, rather, they conjure educational opportunities through the frame of live art, through bringing art to life. This ultimately challenges people’s expectations about how we engage with art, both in its function and meaning, and how we conduct ourselves within an art gallery: talking, walking, learning, dressing, and most importantly, participating.