RESEARCH: Assignment 4 – meaning of ‘Installation’

RESEARCH: Assignment 4 – Meaning of ‘Installation’

Before deciding on the subject for my final assignment piece, I decided to research the wider context of the term ‘installation’. The steps of Part 4 through the different projects have introduced very interesting research areas and this together with my reading for the parallel project have produced so many new ideas that I felt the need to get some clarity before beginning this assignment. My original perception of installation and site-specific artwork before Part 4 was limited but the exploration into the work of Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Pierrette Bloch etc have prompted me to think more deeply about the possibilities within these areas.

My research emphasized the relevance of ‘space’ in installation work. In a conversation between Robert Storr and Ilya Kabakov in ‘Art in Theory 1900 – 2000’ edited by Charles Harrison and Paul Wood, Storr comments: “ My assumption was that the whole point of encountering installation work is to enter a space where you don’t know where you are and you have to learn how to imaginatively put it together.’ (page 1179) I found this enlightening and it made complete sense as did the rest of the conversation. I could see that space and the viewer were essential elements in installation artwork. Mention was made of the challenge that installation artwork brings in encouraging the viewer to see installation work as art. A canvas smeared with yellow paint is immediately interpreted whereas viewers seeing a combination of light and space are required to enter in and in solitude to contribute personal meaning. Reading this conversation helped me to make the connections between the various projects in Part 4 and I think what I have taken from it is that installations need to embrace the viewer. The space which the artwork occupies is of paramount importance in the understanding of the work. This added meaning for me in the work of Edward Krasinski and his engagement with the viewer in the blue tape series. Even though the artwork is on the wall the composition using the strip of blue tape enfolds the participant and thereby includes the space which the viewer occupies. I felt to understand that I needed to devise a piece which was about the space.

Richard Serra states in The Yale lecture, in Kunst & Museumjournaal, Amsterdam, vol 1, no 6, 1990, “ Site-specific works primarily engender a dialogue with their surroundings”… “The works become part of the site and restructure both conceptually and perceptually the organization of the site. My works never decorate, illustrate or depict a site.”

My brief research into these two terms before beginning the final piece have brought me to the conclusion that I need to be focusing primarily on my response to the space. I like the concept of a ‘dialogue with the space’. My research into the work of Emily Kame Kngwarreye is also at the forefront of my thought as I begin this assignment. Although she made no perceptable change or restructuring of her surroundings, her paintings for me expressed her dialogue with the elements of her space. They are in and of the space and she is there also. I can see a wholeness there where the space, the artwork and the person become one. This is where my reading has brought me in this assignment and I will be attempting to express this in the artwork I create.


About pbfarrar

I am an Australian living permanently in England. I have recently retired from the position of Principal of an independent school and have taken up the study of Fine Art with the OCA.
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