Reading Analysis

Looking at a variety of readings and articles on: puddles in a city, support structures and the exhibition/installation.

How to encounter a puddle

Author: Anny Li

Anny Li writes about the significance of a puddle in relation to us and our daily lives in a bustling city. “A puddle interferes, and ultimately vanishes, only to replenish itself anew”, Li states in her article, How to encounter a puddle. By this she means that a puddle is persistent and fearless; it is more than just a mere reflective pool of water. It lays in the cracks of gutters and curbs, it is a production of mankind and Mother Earth alike. Although it may be a nuisance, you can perceive it as being like holy water. As it evaporates and vanishes, it leaves traces, or reappears in new unpredictable or even predicable spots, corners or crevasse of the city. The puddle is a metaphor for humans. In a humorous way, Li suggests that we should be more like puddles. They lie unknown but bring a lot of purpose in the bigger scheme of the urban life. They are a reflection of perseverance and success. One can never truly get rid of the puddle in the bustling city. Criticism wont drown it out.

Support Structures: An Interview with Mark Cousins

Author: Céline Condorelli

In an interview with Mark Cousins, Director of Histories and Theory at the Architectural Association (London), Céline Condorelli writes about the function of support structures. She discusses whether an object is independent and free standing as we would ideally like to see or is support an integral part of it.

Cousins explains to Condorelli that “there is nothing in the fantasy that shows the object has the means of being supported, and yet that must be implied”. What he means here is that when we fantasise or imagine the idea of an object, it is typically a free standing one, floating somewhere in space, without a support structure in place. Cousins then goes on to talk about the conditions of the body, and for architecture to exist, it needs the human body to be in existence. The body is not only itself an object, but also a kind of instrument. The body of the subject, as it were, literally goes out into the world and feels the form of something, which can be that of a building.

We like to see ourselves as independent and free standing which we wish to be projected in our surroundings. We are horrified by the sight of scaffolding as a support structure on architecture as it isn’t in our nature to believe it relies on this means of support. We see this as a temporary means. Scaffolding may indicate that the structure is damaged or still being developed and we feel a sense of relief once scaffolding is taken down.

Politics of Installation

Author: Boris Groys

The field of art is today frequently equated with the art market, and the artwork is primarily identified as a commodity. That art functions in the context of the art market, and every work of art is a commodity, is beyond doubt; yet art is also made and exhibited for those who do not want to be art collectors, and it is in fact these people who constitute the majority of the art public. 

In the standard exhibition, everything in the space is administered by the curator, to be seen by the public, giving the artworks power of being seen. An exhibition is an accumulation of art objects placed next to one another to be viewed in concession. An installation isn’t a curated public space. It allows visitors to experience the space and artwork as a whole. The space is the artwork. It gives the artist creative freedom and sovereign rights from the individual artwork, to that of the exhibition itself. Groys suggests that an exhibition is similar to someone walking down a street, observing the architecture of houses left and right. Here the viewer observes outside the art. The role of the curator is to “cure” the artwork from its powerlessness to be seen, its inability to show itself by itself, and for it to be public.

Indeed, the artistic installation is often viewed today as a form that allows the artist to democratize his or her art, to take public responsibility, to begin to act in the name of a certain community or even of society as a whole. In this sense, the emergence of the artistic installation seems to mark the end of the Modernist claim of autonomy and sovereignty. The artist’s decision to allow the multitude of visitors to enter the space of the artwork is interpreted as an opening of the closed space of an artwork to democracy. 

To me an installation is a work of art, typically site specific, targeted at transforming the space. It is an immersive experience and gives the artist artistic freedom. The installation operates by means of a symbolic privatisation of the public space of an exhibition. It may appear to be a standard, curated exhibition, but its space is designed according to the sovereign will of an individual artist who is not supposed to publicly justify the selection of the included objects, or the organization of the installation space as a whole. The installation is frequently denied the status of a specific art form, because it is not obvious what the medium of an installation actually is. In the standard exhibition, everything in the space  is administered by the curator, to be seen by the public, giving the artworks power of being seen. An exhibition is an accumulation of art objects placed next to one another to be viewed in concession.

An installation isn’t a curated public space. It allows visitors to experience the space and artwork as a whole. The space is the artwork. It gives the artist creative freedom and sovereign rights from the individual artwork, to that of the exhibition itself. The artistic installation is a way to expand the domain of the sovereign rights of the artist from the individual art object to that of the exhibition space itself. This means that the artistic installation is a space in which the difference between the sovereign freedom of the artist and the institutional freedom of the curator becomes immediately visible. The regime under which art operates in our contemporary Western culture is generally understood to be one that grants freedom to art. But art’s freedom means different things to a curator and to an artist.

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