“At Middlebury, the students hated Solid State Change not just because they couldn’t climb on it, but because it challenged their idea of what environmentalism is. They hated it “because it wasn’t made of local materials.” Of course the correct response is to count the tires in the parking lot, or how many tires are thrown over the average tarp at your average Vermont farm. And to ask what “local materials” means. And to ask whether it’s helpful to collapse a complex idea like environmentalism into a simple fetishizing of beautiful, natural-looking things.”
As always, good points from Deborah Fisher, and I am glad she isn’t precious about her outside art. I haven’t gotten over the prejudice that feels that if an outdoor public art work cannot be climbed or sat upon, it should be in a gallery. I am sure there are some really delicate things that really work in the outdoor environment, and so cannot be placed in a gallery, but mostly I feel that this world needs to be filled with more things we can climb on and play with, and kneejerk this-is-art-thus-don’t-touch-it-if-you-respect-it is a lost opportunity.
Breaching the world from the gallery can stick in craws that don’t enter the gallery. This access is an amazing opportunity. But the other half of that privilege is accepting that you have entered the world and left the gallery. You need to be as accepting as you hope others could be, and if that means sneaker tracks on your public art, at least you are giving people a chance to try out your art their own way.
Public art is a privilege: I agree that rudeness rather than reverence can make it more exciting, and that needs to go both ways.