Peter Waite - 'Art School Crit Room', 1998, acrylic on aluminum panel.
"Peter Waite is a Connecticut based artist. His large scale paintings document his travels to sites of the built environment that embody public sentiment or ideological concerns. [...] His interest lies in the intersection of personal and social memory. The figure is intentionally omitted from the representation to emphasize the viewer’s participation as witness to the moment of perceiving, then remembering, these architectural spaces."
Waite's painting of an art school crit room exists as an institutional critique given its eerily disturbing nature, which the artist achieves through the greenish filter that permeates the image and the absence of figures in a place where their participation is essential. The chairs looking at a blank wall invite the viewer to be confronted with the dogmatic, oppressive nature of the educational environment; Waite further's this by choosing to depict the three main chairs in primary colours, which are a symbol for the traditions of the art world that exist as sources of limitations for artists. This piece was particularly relevant to my process given it exploration of the very world in which Waite is forced to work, the same world that my piece was targeted towards (given that it is a site-specific installation that references CSM's King's Cross site). He invites viewers to question the role that education plays in developing artists, especially in how he chooses to represent a situation whose main purpose is to sharpen critical thinking in relation to art. The theme of memory and collective consciousness of a place is also something extremely relevant to my work, which Waite explores in most of his pieces; he instigates his viewers to consider the history of the places he depicts, much like my aim for this project.
Cildo Meireles - 'Através,' 1983-1989, installation.
"The imposing Através is a good example of this. The work, a navigable structure, is in the form of a labyrinth created with fishing and hunting nets, fences, gates, barriers and metal posts, but also voile and cellophane, and much else besides. The floor is completely covered in glass, which creaks and crumbles with each step. By using the direct physical experience of transparency and the sense of danger, Através is a thematic expression of the tension between visibility and invisibility, penetrability and impenetrability, and inclusion and exclusion."
Having seen the piece live in Inhotim, and knowing the full effect of its grand scale and interactive nature, this piece was on my mind from the beginning of the project. Meireles crafts his visual poetry through the use of conventional and unconventional material, the familiar and alien, to an outcome that leaves viewers both intrigued and repelled, but always with a sense of curiosity, eagerly anticipating the moment where they reach the centre, which appears so elusive. However, when you finally get across all the barriers and get to what is meant to be the 'prize,' you are confronted with the reality that the journey was much more instigating than the reward. The space is arranged meticulously, and the viewer constantly finds points of interest with distinct meanings. Metaphorically, the piece alludes to all of the barriers that restrain our freedom, which exist in our daily lives, in banal things, as much as in a large, socio-political level.. I drew from the way in which Meireles uses materials that seem unrelated so that, when they come together, the viewer is able to make their own associations. Also, I was aesthetically inspired by the way in which some materials are hanging and produce a draping effect.
Christoph Büchel - 'Dump,' 2008, installation.
"Christoph Büchel is known for his hyperrealistic, large-scale installations and conceptual projects. Tending toward the intensely political and provocative, his works challenge artistic and societal assumptions, often inviting the active participation of the viewer. Büchel’s disturbing imagery includes oil tankers, bombs, remnants of an exploded excursion bus, claustrophobic chambers, and cramped tunnels."
With "Dump," Büchel is able to put across a variety on comments. On one hand, he is making a statement about consumption, waste and the oppressive and destructive potential carried by small, seemingly useless objects when they accumulate. He puts the viewers themselves in the position of the trash he exhibits as an art piece, as they are made to enter the space through the tunnel out of which we can assume the debris came from. Büchel connects past, present and future in a work that makes viewers contemplate the origins of our tendency to consume and produce waste, the current living conditions of many people around the world, and the prospect of the future which will arise from our current behaviour, if it persists. The exhibition space is invaded, and Büchel is able to dialogue with the gallery, and so the art world, in a way that they become witnesses, alibis to the crime that is committed against our planet. The fact that the piece is able to act as a reminder, a trigger to viewers, was a reaction I wanted to attempt to draw from my audience, by decontextualising familiar objects in order to instigate a newfound interpretation of their meaning and relationship with the space.
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