29 October 2007

As Promised: Images of A Specific Piece of Public Art and More Questions About Public Art In General

Solid State Change, 2007, discarded tires and electrical insulation over cement, 9'x24'x11', commissioned by Middlebury College's Committee for Art in Public Places

Look forward to more musing on the nature of public art later in the week. In order to do its job (that is, actually be art), public art must produce conflict--if everyone liked it and it made no one uncomfortable, it would be bad art. Generally, this creates a lot of lame art in public, and a lot of artists afraid to leave the safety of the gallery. But need this be so?

I was talking to Rachel Owens about going to Middlebury, and she provided an interesting insight. She compared what happened--a spirited debate about interesting ideas and problems--to the unanimous lovefest that generally characterizes the Artist's Lecture, and wondered why artists can't give and get feedback like this from one another.

Interesting question, and relevant to the content on this blog. There will be as much palavering as time permits in the upcoming days. You all know what I think. Debate is good, the art world has too little of it, and public art could perhaps help overcome this artworld aversion to critical opinion.

ON A RELATED NOTE: Tyler Green's Dave Hickey Top Ten Challenge is asking for similar walls (of constant bobble-headed approval) to be torn down... and new walls (of discernment) to be erected instead. I have, as a good blogger should, linked to this article instantly and reflexively--without actually thinking about whether a top-ten list makes sense. All I am saying at this point is that I am going to the dentist. And while they scrub and scrape my pearly whites, I'll be staring at acoustic tile and trying to come up with a reason why I shouldn't agree that Dave Hickey "kicks serious ass."


Blogger Carla said...

The one time I have real faith that shit matters, is when my studio's rockin'. An individual's engagement with materials can sometimes break open an expanded comprehension/experience of reality. It's entirely possible that no one else will see and fully experience this piece. Does it matter that you did it? Does it matter that something crazy happened? Or is the artistic framework through which it is publicly experienced more important?

When great artistic things happen, then other considerations, like intended purpose and audience reaction/interaction, become much less relevant (irrelevant?).

This may seem socially irresponsible. It's easily pegged as elitist.

But what is the truth? I know that it's right to consider art's purpose; to consider its impact.

But in focussing on these considerations, aren't we really justifying the work, and our right to make it? Our right to exist?

This world is falling apart, and I should do something, especially because I live in a democracy.

But I know what sometimes happens in my studio means something. I don't know that about anything else.

As per photos, this piece is kicking aesthetic ass. Save the public art issues for lesser work.

03 November, 2007 10:36  
Blogger Carla said...

I'm really tone deaf on-line (and becoming more and more so in real life). Please read above in a slightly whiney and frustrated, rather than attacking, voice.

03 November, 2007 10:42  
Blogger fisher6000 said...

I think something interesting happened, and I think that's a good thing.

Don't get me wrong. Frankly, I think this piece kicks ass too. But I like that it doesn't kick ass in a vaccuum, that it made for more than kudos.

That's a double happiness, if you ask me. I don't think that takes away from the sculpture itself, but you sound as if you do. Do I getcha?

(and you don't sound attacking to me... nor do you sound whiny. You sound like you are asking questions that are relevant. Thanks!)

03 November, 2007 15:25  
Blogger Carla said...

I don't believe the Middlebury feedback takes away from this piece. I don't think it can.

I don't believe public art must perform any differently from studio/gallery art. You're going to work with different aesthetic and conceptual considerations. You're going to work within some framework of it being in a public setting, and having a public audience. This will all influence it.

But in the end it's you the individual artist doing your thing, or not. This may or may not produce conflict.

I don't understand how it must produce conflict to keep from being bad art. It most likely will, but I don't understand this as a motivation.

This requirement is what seems contrary to the "natural goodness" of making things. (Trying to avoid sublimities).

03 November, 2007 21:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just love this work, Deb -- feral and industrial and organic all at once. Hints of the tectonic.

05 November, 2007 15:58  

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