Blue Oyster Art Project Space
Nestled in the basement of the Moray Chambers building, down a rather inconspicuous, dark, graffitied alleyway off Moray Place, you’ll find the Blue Oyster gallery. This modest, artist-run space has been a hub of contemporary artistic experimentation, innovation, and diversity since 1999. Aiming to provide a platform for artists, irrespective of age and art-world status, Blue Oyster is a vehicle for non-commercial artistic ventures and discussion on contemporary art.
The Blue Oyster gets my vote for the best art space in town because of its stance as non-commercial, artist-run organisation. It is a non-profit outfit, which means, unlike commercial galleries, it doesn’t charge artists to exhibit or take any commissions. Without commercial constraints, artists can push the boundaries of installation, performance, and conceptual art free from the materialistic notions of the art-object as commodity. It also means elitism based on commercial success is kept out of the project space, allowing the art to be judged purely on speculative and innovatory merits.
By virtue of its basement location, the space itself is an interesting deviation from the spacious, light-flooded white cube of other exhibition spaces. The gallery comprises an irregular assortment of dissecting walls culminating in three small rooms, providing interesting spatial dynamics for the many site-specific works it exhibits. The white-painted, exposed brick and lack of natural light gives the space an unobtrusive, low-key austerity and an underground vibe, in both the literal and cultural sense.
As exemplified by its involvement in the Fringe Festival and recent Performance Series, Blue Oyster promotes artistic diversity. With an emphasis on innovation, many works explore new forms of technology and communication, as seen in the Skype-based work by Simon Kaan currently on show. Via the internet, this work literally and virtually transcends the gallery space into the restaurant across the street. Public projects that go beyond the gallery walls are another reflection of Blue Oyster’s non-commerciality. 2008 students may remember David Cross’s bouncy-castle-come-psychological-experiment installation in the Union Building.
This week, I recommend taking a stroll down High Street to see James Voller’s large-scale photographic re-sculpturing of a soon-to-be-demolished industrial building.