September 5th is the opening of a new exhibition. ‘Socks & Stockings, a world full of surprises’  at the Textile Research Center. 

As an intern at the TRC, I am helping with the set-up of the exhibition.  

Many foam-boards with an amazing collection of different socks are already hanging on the walls, but as director Gillian Vogelsang is pointing out; all the boards have to hang exactly right.  We have to create an organic cohesion between all items, a natural flow that has to do with dedicated precision I soon am finding out.  

As this is sort of a new activity for me I am asking myself what should be, besides the content, the parameters for a good exhibition. I want to take numerous aspects into account:  

  • The order of the boards, already set-up by the curator
  • The different sizes and colours of the boards
  • Proposed ideal distance of the viewer towards the objects
  • Light from the spots
  • Light from the street coming in
  • Visibility, attraction from outside

And above all, the objective of the curator for this exhibition.  Gillian explains to me that the idea is to focus on the human aspect in the sock knitting process.  

Next to the foam boards there will be texts and pictures describing not only the techniques that are used to knit the socks, but also the background of the making and the makers.  

‘With our collection and exhibitions we are showing history, politics, philosophy and anthropology in a very tactile way’. 

The exhibition space is in an older building, not one wall is strait, and intuitively I feel that the exhibition content and set-up have to lift the space to a higher level, with a positive air of respect towards it.

We use extreme precision levelling the boards and we decide to hang the boards of the same colour at equal hight.  We find out that that is giving the space a natural flow. We take care that the boards dealing with the same subject are spaced a tiny bit closer to each other and that there is more spacing between groups of boards.  We are talking centimeters and millimeters here and it is amazing how things fall in place once the spacing it done well.

Thank you, Rietveld Txt graphic design teacher, Erik Wongema, for making me aware that every detail counts towards the look and feel of a magazine, it certainly also applies to setting up an exhibition!

At the end of the day we made a huge progress, and I am curious how the texts, that will be done by next week, will fit in.  We might redo the set-up again, but that’s totally part of this intriguing process.  As Gillian warned me already: you will never look with the same eyes to an exhibition anymore!