On 06/03/2014 I attended Hannah Sawtell’s seminar on creating installations. As someone who makes this type of art, I found the seminar incredibly useful. We looked at a range of artists who create installations and discussed what points are important to consider when making this type of work.
What seems to be the most important point to consider is the surrounding area. This applies not only to installation art but to any work that is going to be presented. This does not only apply to the way it is curated, but also where it is placed, e.g. a school, gallery, park, etc. It is important to make this consideration because the surroundings also become part of the work and could affect the narrative. In my own work I have transformed my studio space into a small installation. Because it is within the confines of the art department with lots of other stuff going on around it, it probably loses some of the impact it could have had if presented on its own in a gallery.
My attraction with installation art is that it has an immersive quality which enables you to become part of the work. Jim Lambie’s floor installations are an example of this as one is forced to walk onto it, thus becoming a part of the work. Martin Creed’s Half the Air in a Given Space illustrates this point by submerging his audience in a mass of balloons, creating a direct interaction with the piece and providing an engaging experience.
Martin Creed, All the Air in Half a Given Space (this piece has been recreated often by Creed. I was lucky enough recently to visit it at the ’What’s the Point of it?’ exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. The balloons were white)
Although I’m already familiar with Paul Thek’s Death of a Hippie (1967), it’s worth noting the context of this piece. Made during the decade of ‘peace and love’, Death of a Hippy creates a metaphor for political disillusionment, i.e. the Vietnam War. Depicted is a life sized cast of Thek dressed in groovy garments, laid out dead in a tomb. If this piece were made now, it would probably not have the same impact as it’s very relative to its time.
Paul Thek, The Tomb- Death of a Hippie, 1967
During this seminar I was introduced to the installation art of Mike Kelley. As a fan of Assume Vivid Astro Focus’s installations, I was immediately attracted to the psychedelic and disorientating nature of Kelley’s work. He brings different fragments together to create a total art-work which successfully resists descending into chaos; and he considers how these fragments work in relation to their surroundings.
Mike Kelley, Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites, 1991-95