Contextual Engagement

Paula Lalala
546 40th St.
Brooklyn, NY 11232
(718) 916-5035
September 29, 2016


Curatorial Proposal:

I.) Curatorial Statement

II.) Critical Path/Timeline

III.) Preliminary Budget

IV.) Illustration of Concept

V.) Examples of Artists

VI.) Curator’s Resume

VII.) Examples of Past Curated Exhibits

I.) Curatorial Statement

Contextual Engagement

     This exhibition evolves out of feminist aesthetics, social practice, and institutional critique. Works of art by contemporary artists will be temporarily exhibited in the homes of participating gallery members and/or patrons for intimate contemplation and enjoyment. In exchange, objects of personal meaning belonging to the members and/or patrons will be exhibited in the gallery along with photographs of the artworks in situ within the home.

Art has always had a relationship to the domestic sphere¹. Sometimes art collector’s homes or artist’s homes become art museums. Contextual Engagement is a group exhibition probing the boundaries of the private realm and the public realm in relation to contemporary art. It is a group experiment in intersubjectivity, exploring the role and function of the artist, the art object, the art venue, and the art viewer.

In Western society the domestic and the public realms are usually thought of separately, but they have always had some overlap. The distinction between these realms is undergoing a shift, in part due to changes facilitated by technology, but also due to shifts in thinking such as that outlined in “Unfinished Business: Women, Men, Work, Family”, by former Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department, Anne Marie Slaughter. She makes the case that both arenas, what she refers to as the caring and the competitive realms, are important, and advocates “striving toward a good ‘work/life fit’”.

The domestic environment and public gallery environment differ in innumerable ways. If an object is placed on display in a gallery does it automatically become a work of art? Placing art in the home allows for contemplation over a different time frame. What happens when a work of art is encountered day-to-day, as compared to a more limited time frame typical of a gallery visit?

Homes are filled with objects possessing a range of aesthetic values and personal meaning. These objects may be personally significant for numerous reasons – they are associated with an experience, a moment, a relationship, a place, and so on. Is it possible for others to perceive some of the meaning these objects possess for their owners? How does our perception of these objects change when we take them out of the home and place them on display in a public gallery?

In many ways we are all artists². Whether we are conscious of it or not, aesthetics inform our decisions every day; what clothes to put on, how to wear our hair, how to decorate our home.

What constitutes an art audience? Is the community encountering a work of art in a home any different than those encountering it in a gallery?

1.) “House of the Lilies” –

Claes Oldenberg and Coosje vanBruggen “Bedroom Ensemble” –

Judy Chicago, Miriam Shapiro, et. al. “Womanhouse” –

Elmgreen & Dragset “Past Tomorrow” –

2.) Group Material “The People’s Choice (Arroz con Mango)” –

Joseph Beuys –


II.) Critical Path/Timeline

 One Year Prior to Exhibition Opening:

  • Develop curatorial concept.
  • Research connected precedents.
  • Research venues for exhibition.
  • Generate proposal.

Nine Months or Greater Prior to Opening:

  • Apply to gallery or museum.
  • Receive response confirming exhibition (including specific exhibition dates) and signing of contract.

Seven Months Prior to Opening:

  • Draft solicitation letters for participation.
  • List call to artists on NYFA website, personal networks, etc.

Six Months or Greater Prior to Opening:

  • Work with Gallery to solicit members/patrons for participation and draft letter. A letter seeking willing participants will go to the members/patrons of the gallery explaining the exhibition and inviting them to participate collaboratively. *Note: participating members/patrons will receive appropriately corresponding archival photographic prints of the in situ artworks as a token of gratitude. (Approx.10 participants needed.)
  • An open call for works of art intended for viewing in a private home will go out to the international art community via professional arts organization’s websites and artist networks. *Note: as compensation for participation selected artists will receive a monetary honorarium. (Approx. 10 artists will be selected.)

Five Months Prior to Opening:

  • Curator confirms participation with Members and Artists, including confirmation of specific works of art for exhibition in homes and personal objects for exhibition in gallery.

Four Months Prior to Opening:

  • Curator generates final list of works by Artists and final list of Member’s personal objects, complete with title, medium, size and insurance values; list of addresses of artist lenders, complete with postal codes and phone numbers; requirements for installation (equipment, spatial needs, etc.)

Three Months Prior to Opening:

  • Gallery issues loan forms.
  • Gallery initiates shipping and insurance arrangements.
  • Artists provide biographical texts.
  • Negotiate and obtain written confirmation from both Artists and Member participants for copyright of photographic images of artworks in situ.

Two Months Prior to Opening:

  • Receive artworks from Artists.
  • Assign artworks to Members via lottery.
  • Schedule installation appointments with Member participants.

Seven Weeks Prior to Opening:

  • Over a one to two week period deliver and install artworks in homes of member participants.
  • Photograph artworks in situ.
  • Receive personal object of meaning from Member participants at this time of artwork delivery, or photo shoot, or schedule pick up of object.
  • Exhibition essay [# words] to be provided by Curator.

Six Weeks Prior to Opening:

  • Curator’s final draft of catalogue text submitted to the Gallery. Edited draft submitted to Curator.
  • Exhibition’s accompanying publications to be produced by Gallery.
  • Gallery oversees production of printed invitation.
  • Curator visits gallery and develops layout of installation.
  • Procure shelves and pedestals for exhibition.

Five Weeks Prior to Opening

  • Curator to submit final text with revisions in electronic format; including all photographic material required for publication.
  • Photo printing of artwork in situ submitted to photo studio at this time.
  • Curator, Artists, and Members submit names and addresses (including zip codes) to Gallery for invitations.

Four Weeks Prior to Opening:

  • Gallery oversees production of accompanying publications.
  • Gallery issues press releases.
  • Gallery mails out invitations.
  • Artists and Members receive [#] of copies of invitation for personal distribution.
  • Curator visits Gallery and develops rough layout of installation of personal objects.

Two Weeks Prior to Opening:

  • Gallery prepares / mails honorarium checks for Artists and Curator

One Week Prior to Opening:

  • Curator and Gallery install exhibition.

One or Two Days Prior to Opening:

  • Gallery procures food and drink for opening.


  • Curator present.

Mid-exhibition Run:

  • Curator’s talk at Gallery.
  • Gallery arranges photo documentation of objects of personal meaning exhibition in the gallery.

***Additional Mid-exhibition Run (possible fund raiser):

  • Modeled on the 2013 Tribeca Collection Walking Tour fundraiser, which benefited the Bronx Museum. “Tickets for the tour, which takes place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., are $250 for non-museum members ($200 for members)…. Admission includes breakfast from 9 to 10 a.m.” (Approx. 3 to 5 participating members/patrons of the gallery needed.)

End of Show:

  • Closing party for artists, member/patron participants, gallery, etc.
  • Dismantle Show
  • Return Member’s personal objects
  • Return artworks to artists


III.) Preliminary Budget


Artists Honorarium

(10 artists x $350 each)

Art and Object Shipping Fees $2,000

(for opening, talk, and closing)


(including shelves and pedestals)

Catalogue Printing

(350 copies 40 pg – 1 x artwork, 1x artwork in situ, 1 x personal object in gallery, essay, etc.)

Professional Services

(photography, graphic design)

Photographic Prints of Artwork in Situ

(10 prints – 24″ x 36″ each $175)




(Not including curatorial honorarium)




***Possible Fund Raiser

(See Critical Path/Timeline, Additional Mid-exhibition run)



IV.) Illustration of Concept

Domestic Interior Detail, Olana, 2016
Domestic Interior Detail, Olana, 2016


Domestic Interior Detail, Donovan-Lalala House, 2016
Domestic Interior Detail, Donovan-Lalala House, 2016


Domestic Interior Detail, Melas House, 2016
Domestic Interior Detail, Melas House, 2016


Domestic Interior Detail, Stamatis House, 2016
Domestic Interior Detail, Stamatis House, 2016


Domestic Interior Detail, Joy House, 2016
Domestic Interior Detail, Joy House, 2016


Domestic Interior Detail, Baumann House, 2016
Domestic Interior Detail, Baumann House, 2016


Domestic Interior Detail, Objects of Personal Meaning, China Cabinet From Mom, Grandmother’s Salt and Pepper Shakers, Gifts From Zach, Etc., 2016


Domestic Interior Detail, Object of Personal Meaning, Childhood Bed, 2014


Object of Personal Meaning, Gun, 2016
Object of Personal Meaning, Gun, 2016

*Note: all images by Paula Lalala


V.) Examples of Artists

     Artists often respond to thematic group shows by generating new work. An open call for works of art intended for viewing in a private home will go out to the international art community via professional arts organization’s websites, such as NYFA, and artist networks. Here are some artists from the curator’s personal network who might be appropriate for participation:

Ann Agee

Sasha Chavchavadze

Tasha Depp

Ian Gerson

Robyn Love

Portia Munson

Peter Nadin

Na Hye Ryung


VI.) Curator’s Resume


VII.) Examples of Past Curated Exhibitions

Thank you for your consideration.