Saturday, April 30, 2011

Where is the Exhibition Space When There is No Space

There is no most stupid, only more stupid

There are two versions of graduation show plan in front of me. These days, the map of the plan brings a storm and drives everybody crazy in our school. Sadly , I became the most unfortunate man of this crisis. And now, I don’t even have a place to show my artwork! I turned in my proposal and pointed out I just need a simple darkroom, but all I have here, as it is shown in the map, is just a 23 by 4 feet hallway. I couldn’t find any way to show my laser lights installation piece among this area.

So, what I had to face —I have no space.

Exhibition without space

I always believe in a Chinese proverb 否极泰来,“Pi Ji Tai Lai” (Things turn to be better when they come to the extremely bad). So, I think this is the worst situation for an artist in a group exhibition, especially; I am paying to show in vernissage.

Through art history in exhibition, artists have faced a similar situation, like the first exhibition of impressionism. That exhibition was host in a tent outside of an official exhibition building. Along these lines of exhibit without space, NYC challenges the audience by shifting the meaning of display when it happens outside a gallery space. I think the most valuable exhibition space is underground of New York City—the subway of New York (MTA).

Doing art in the subways in New York

The New York subway is truly unique. In its 100+ years of existence, it has become so much more than just a mode of transportation. It is an experience: a canvas for artists, a venue for musicians and a sort of dendrochronological record of the city’s collective subconscious. While moving transporting millions of people where they need to go each day with a minimum of logistical fuss and environmental muss, The New York metro also serves as a great humanizing, socializing force. After all, spending time in the company with strangers is one of the earth's oldest, most direct and stimulating forms of education. Travel is broadening, as they say, and New Yorkers can learn a good bit about the world simply by exercising their right to a $2.75 ride. The experience, formative to natives, transformative to later arrivals, encourages tolerance, curiosity and creativity, basic ingredients of cosmopolitanism.

New York’s subway art started by late 1980’s. I think of doing art in the subway as a powerful concept, a powerful conceptual artwork. People expect it now, which is wonderful, and it has completely changed the environment of the sys- tem. It has made it into the most democratic museum in the city with artists of a caliber that you would see at MoMA like Elizabeth Murray, Roy Lichtenstein, and Sol LeWitt.

When we see the great success of New York subway, we also mentioned that New York subway is not built for art. As what I am facing now, environment had never left any space for art. With an effective usage of the environment, a lot of art work achieves success in the subway. A great example for this is Tom Otterness, a New York city-based sculptor. Tom Otterness's "Life Underground " (at 14th Street and 8th Avenue) has emerged as one of the most popular pieces of subway art in the system. Regular riders doubtless noticed that installation took several years, owing to long disputes with bureaucrats. Currently, Otterness reates exclusively public works and like other public artists -- Christo and Jeanne-Claude come to mind -- he considers dickering with officials as part of the creative process. In the meantime, parts of this installation appeared all over town, from Central Park to Battery Park City to Downtown Brooklyn and Pratt Institute. The entire installation, as Otterness conceived it, is now in place.

The absolutely no means absolutely yes, abandoning the “reliability of art in environment” and change it into “the art changes with environment”. Then, the exhibition environment wouldn’t affect the concept of art. I made a decision, I abandon my dispensable show space.

Time to change, time to go out

Sometimes large, sometimes small, the art in the subway system includes murals of glass, ceramic or stone mosaic; windows and walls of stained glass; sculpture; and forays into Conceptual art and installation art, all permanent. They have been made by artists known and unknown from all corners of the New York art world and beyond. For better and sometimes for worse, this underground type of work reflects the subway's vibrant social reality: it is a fascinating exercise in artistic democracy.

Since I give up this inherence space, then I need to push my art into extremely large or extremely small scale.

An ghost exhibition beyond the Vernissage

If the storm has to come, let it comes harder. How I push my work into the ultimate? This question bring my memory to Yoko Ono’s piece now showing in MOMA New York, the Museum of Modern (F)Art.

one foot by one foot catalogue- the title seems to be Museum of Modern FArt (Ono is carrying a shopping bag with the letter “F” directly beneath the Museum of Modern Art marquee)- which details her concept at length; the catalogue was designed by Ono and produced by Michael Gross.

Since the museum wouldn't give her an exhibition, she curated an exhibition by herself--gesturing at the photographs of her renegade show that are now installed in the galleries. Called The Museum of Modern FArt, the 1971 piece, which went on to became somewhat famous in the alternative Fluxus art community, involved Ms. Ono strolling in as a visitor and then setting scores of flies loose in the MoMA sculpture garden.

Obviously, this is the paradise of artist and curator should both know how to bring the work close to audience and also make sure the artist’s own identity didn’t lose. This is a common goal even sometimes artist and curator may drop into two different directions. But curator should not refuse that there is something can go beyond the exhibition and the physical show space to connect between artist and audience directly heart to heart. And when there is no actual art work, what left over with no space but everything surround with the environment is the soul of the artist.

Alright, I will “cut” this exhibition, cut the whole space. I am going to create an ghost exhibition which is my exhibition beyond the Vernissage

Steps of Cut as shown below:
  1. install all the laser light in public area to cut the space
  2. to abide two principles:
    1. don’t obey the law of US, not going to hurt human bodies
    2. not affect on others artwork and their private space
    3. set up labels next to installed area, define the concept of cut in each space


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