Last summer, the public was invited to view 183 images of art from the Walker’s renowned collection of works on paper. Using a digital kiosk in a Walker gallery and an online survey at walkerart.org, individuals cast nearly a quarter-million votes on whether particular artworks should “definitely” or “maybe not” be included in the exhibition 50/50: Audience and Experts Curate the Paper Collection. Meanwhile, chief curator Darsie Alexander was considering artists who have been collected in depth and, inevitably, bringing an element of personal preference to the process of organizing the “expert” half of the exhibition.
Featuring some 200 works hung salon-style, 50/50 is at once an experiment in crowd curation and an exploration of the Walker’s collection, with each of the two sections filling half the gallery space. This shared exchange sparks a range of questions about the dynamics between “audience” and “expert,” or between curatorial practice and so-called “mass taste.” It also touches on a broader contrast between the act of making aesthetic judgments in an online context and the experience of looking at and thinking about art up close, without time constraints.