It’s the last of our 12 weeks of Artful Summer!
Art Idea #12 – Sometimes Artists Perform!
For our final week, we dive into the world of Public Art, Performance Art, and Flashmobs.
For 11 weeks now we’ve been making things. Objects. Some have been physical objects like a drawing or a zine. Others have been photos or videos that exist in a slightly virtual or digital space.
But all of it has been works by an individual. You made something. If someone wants to, they can look at what you did and think about it.
This week we’re going to move from Objects to Experiences. And we’re also going to move from “me” as all-seeing artist, to interactive experiences where your audience/participants contribute to and shape the experience. We’re not just going to offer stuff for the public to look at, we’re going to interact with them.
Years ago “Public Art” meant that when somebody built an office tower they bought a huge, heroic steel sculpture from Alexander Calder or Mark di Suvero and plopped it on the ground in front of the big tower. Some people call this “plop art.” Don’t get me wrong, Calder and di Suvero are very compelling artists, but over time, Public Art has become more “public”.
Today when we say “Public Art” we often mean art that includes the public. Summer 2019, when it wasn’t a pandemic, I went out to Venice Beach and created a project I called “Love Beach”. I took signs, paints, pastels, and wooden stakes and invited people to make signs about love and stick them in the sand near the Venice Beach Art Walls. (Next to a big Mark di Suvero sculpture!)
The “amateur” signs that people made were not individually “great art”. They were simple expressions by mostly non-artists on the beach. But the Public Art project wasn’t about genius, it was about creating a scenario for people to interact and think about art.
My friend Brian does juicing at art galleries. If you just walked in you might wonder if he was a Robek’s employee. He’s not. It may look “pedestrian”, but Brian’s juicing is an art action. You pick what things you’d like him to juice for you and while he’s doing it you have a nice conversation about almost anything. It looks “pedestrian”, but in Brian’s hands, it is a deeply thoughtful art experience. When it’s done, the juice is gone and the conversation is over. There isn’t an object to sell in a gallery. There was only the experience. It’s nice that some art objects are preserved for many years. But not all art has to be that. Art can be ephemeral. It can exist in moments. In experiences. In interactions.
You might think that trying to do Public Art during a pandemic is hard or crazy. I think we can do it.
One thing to think about is that art is a conversation. Sometimes it’s an Art Historian with a PhD writing about some famous work. Sometimes it’s your classmates writing about different artists. Sometimes it’s Brian juicing for people.
Public Art, Performance Art, or a Flashmob
Your Public Art, Performance Art, or Flashmob this week doesn’t have to gather a bunch of people at Venice Beach. It doesn’t have to be some elaborate marriage proposal at Disneyland. It can be something small and personal.
Maybe you do something different in your house and see how your roommates or family react. Maybe you invite roommates or family to make some drawings or write sentences with you for a small journal on the pandemic. Maybe you make a grid of squares in chalk on the sidewalk in front of your house, and then leave chalk and a note, “fill in the blank”.
As always, I’m definitely not asking anyone to go out, be in public, or leave the safety of home with this project. I’m only asking you to think of something small that you can do. It doesn’t have to be seen by lots of people to be interesting or meaningful.
In your career, you will need to present information to people. Whether you’re an accountant, in business marketing, marine biology, dance, or anything else, you have to communicate. We all know how sleep-inducing PowerPoint is. Can you think of ways to interact with colleagues and peers that are not you simply saying “here’s my art” or “here’s my spreadsheet”? Can you think of interactions that really are interactions? Now you might not know how things will turn out. Now you draw on the strength of your team to innovate and find solutions. By designing in interaction you not only afford yourself a much wider solution-space, but you also create informed colleagues who better understand and hopefully support your project solution. Working in public is a powerful tool for art, business, and many other endeavors.
- Think of some modest Public Art, Performance Art, or tiny Flashmob that you can execute within the space of your home, or whatever space you are currently occupying. Thinking about that space, whether it’s total home isolation, being out camping, or however else you might be living ATM, is a great way to start thinking about your project ideas.
- Perform your project
- Document it on your blog with Photos or a Video
- What was your concept?
- How did you choose to execute your concept? Why that strategy?
- How did it go? Did people do what you expected? Were there surprises? Insights?
- Name your blog post: Week 12 – Public Art
Our artists this week are Marina Abramovic and Paweł Althamer. You should find plenty of information on both online. Describe their work. Compare and contrast. Discuss what the work means to you.
Name your blog post: Week 12 – Artist – Abramovic-Althamer
If you need a few points, or would just like to help create a better Art 110 for future students, you can write an extra blog post on feedback on the class for up to 25 points of EC.
- What was the best thing about this class?
- What was the least good thing about this class?
- What’s your #1 suggestion to make the class better in the future?
- Did the integration of BeachBoard with the Class Website work for you?
- How did you like posting your work on a blog?
- What did you think of the weekly activities?
- What did you think of the Artist of the week?
- With each week’s activity, I included a “Useful” paragraph where I tried to think about how this art activity not only taught you a little about my world but could also have some usefulness or relevance to your world. Was the “useful” section useful? Did you find any value in my thoughts there? Or did it just seem like I was trying too hard to justify things?
- Name your blog post: Week 12 – EC – Class Feeback
It’s been nice sharing a bit of summer with all of you. Good luck next semester and in life beyond. If you ever have questions down the road, drop me an email. Or just say “hi” and LMK how your life is going.
Happy Trails to you!
& continue to express your humanity!