12 posts tagged publicly funded
12 posts tagged publicly funded
It’s kind of cool to see the list of organizations that get NEA funding. I look at this list and think there’s a lot of great projects to look forward to.
Barbara DeGenevieve, “I Want It All” (1991-5)
Barbara DeGenevieve was a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artists Fellowship in 1988 and 1994, only to have the $20,000 revoked after controversy around the sexually explicit nature of some of her work, among others. Shortly after these controversies, NEA grants for individual artists were cut altogether.
In the years since her denial of funding, her work has become even more directly engaged with the social extremes of sexuality. Her artist’s statement includes the following:
I have used sex as subject matter for more than 25 years in combinations of photographic images, videos, theoretical writings, and sexually explicit monologues. I often call my current work pornographic — when I don’t, I can always be sure someone else will. When I do, it becomes an unstable signifier. What does it mean for a middle-aged woman, a professor, a teacher of theory, a feminist - to write like this, to speak like this, to think these thoughts, to exhibit such bad behavior? I like playing with the vulgar, with the low-class, low-brow, language of traditional porn. I’m suspicious of distinctions that elevate erotica over porn as well as create an incommensurability between art and pornography. I’m fascinated by what happens when private language and action enter the public domain, when vernacular “pornographic” vocabulary intersects with cultural analysis, when everything we believe about political correctness is subverted by intemperance, indulgence, desire out of control, and logical reasoning.
My work is not a critique, but rather an embracing of what has been vilified. It is also an acknowledgment of the ways in which pornography [locates/implicates] [me/us] in a realm of what Judith Butler has described as “psychic excess,” that which is systematically denied by the notion of the volitional subject. “The refusal to conflate the subject with the psyche marks the psychic as that which exceeds the domain of the conscious subject.” It is that realm of the unconscious she describes that that becomes so problematic, the consciously inaccessible that creates such turmoil because it compromises volition — what we think we are or what we’re told we should be. In a vain attempt to keep this excess under control, priests deny their obsession with little boys, evangelists with prostitutes, business executives with infantile humiliation fetishes, and feminists with rape fantasies. These are not accusations but rather recognition of the fact that fetishes, whether horrific or benign, become part of this psychic excess.
Florin Bobu, “63 Real Birdhouses” (2011) (Photograph by Kevin Schmidt)
Largely funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, among other government funding sources, the artist-founded Western Front is committed to creating platforms for artist experimentation, particularly in newer media technologies. Currently on exhibition is a program co-curated with the Isai, Romania Vector Association, which explores the boundaries and relationships between institutions and public arts initiatives in a changing economy. Included in the exhibition is the above work by Florin Bobu, as described in E-artnow:
Using the Western Front’s gallery as a site of creation, Florin Bobu’s new sculpture work, 63 Real Birdhouses (2011), takes the form of a workshop and production space where 63 birdhouses have been built. Through this mass of objects, which are characteristically reminiscent of a childhood craft, Bobu may draw attention to the anthropocentric viewpoints that make such a cliché activity a common reality. As children are instructed to provide shelter for animals, which are very capable of looking after themselves, parallels could be drawn to the institutional thinking that defines the contexts and situations for artistic production and presentation.
Q: Why are there little red question marks incorporated into many of the animal mosaics at the 81st St. subway station?
A: That is the stop for the American Museum of Natural History, and those question marks teach an important lesson, explained Sandra Bloodworth, director of the Arts for Transit program of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The small red marks can be seen on the tail of a diving humpback whale, on a leopard’s paw and on the shell of a giant Galápagos tortoise, among other animals.
”The question marks mean that at the time when it was installed, about 2000, the species was endangered,” she said. Shadowy pictures in light blue tile behind the living species represent extinct species: a dodo, a saber-toothed tiger, a stegosaurus, a mammoth and others.
The museum contributed $500,000 for the art. ”The museum wanted you to feel you arrived at the museum once you get there,” she said of the stop. Riders’ questions invite further exploration inside the museum.
Reblogged from neighborhoodr-upperwestside
Edith Kramer, “New York Subway Station” (1994) (via marisa_nyc)
One of my very favorite things about New York City is its subway system. I am nearly moved to wax poetic about the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority — its elaborate structures and history are utterly fascinating to me. However easy it can be to find reasons to complain about it, there are certain aspects that are equally easy to delight in, particularly the ceramic mosaics located in various stations throughout the city. Tiled artwork had long been apart of the MTA’s history, but a rehabilitation project in the late 1980s spurred the Arts for Transit program, which commissions artists to create mosaics, among other media, for the subway and railroad systems. Each work reflects a different artist’s or group of artists’ vision of an aspect of the city, usually responding to the specific station location. The mosaics range from the abstract to the realistic, from the historical to the imaginative — together functioning as a museum of sorts.
It is hard to pick which one to feature, as there are so many different mosaics to chose from (not to mention that photos often fail to do the live works justice, especially given harsh station lighting and awkward angles). This mosaic depicts a quintessential image of one of the most trafficked stations, following the many parallel lines along its beautiful and treacherous curve. Funnily enough, it depicts the 14th Street Union Square station, but is installed at the Spring Street station.
Source Flickr / urbanprose
I think we’re on the same page here, I agree with your observations/opinions above. Here are some other comments:
I just said:Public art is often very broadly appealing, broadly but plainly abstract, or, if neither, then highly polarizing. It’s funny how art deliberately meant for the largest possible audiences often ends up failing those audiences in some way. I suppose that says something about the…
(I should note that I only skimmed the original post and didn’t read any comments/replies before writing this.)
I agree, with all you said. It seems, in my limited study, that the most successful public art 1) comes from an artist with a very specific vision, 2) has lived in the community a long time, and therefore even the local government agencies have some sense that this person Knows What He or She Is Doing, and will lay off the micro-managing, 3) is representative of or directed to a very specific community, ie the Native American community surrounding an elementary school, or the site of the city’s first Victory Garden/Arbor Day celebration. Of course, those examples specifically are historical and not controversial, so they too are niche but not likely to offend anyone.
Except there are always people who want others to be offended. Pleasing all of the people all of the time, or attempting to, is a failure — in this light — because it’s not teaching people enough. Public art can be so big, so elemental, that it can feel like a waste of resources to just make something prettier. (Or uglier, depending on your aesthetic.)
Generally, and I have no idea if this is common or if I’m a jerk? but I love — love, support, rant about — public art and its value to the community. Aesthetically, psychologically, historically. But I can’t really name a particular piece of public art that sums up why I feel this way. Public art as a concept, and each work as part of a whole that makes a community out of a bunch of people living close together, is its power.
Yinka Shonibare, “Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle” (2010)
The Fourth Plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square is a great example of turning a failure into an opportunity. The other 3 plinths in the majestic square in the city center feature statues of historical figures, but the fourth was never built due to lack of funding. It lay empty for over 150 years until the Royal Society of the Arts came up with the fourth plinth project, commissioning art works for temporary installation. The Greater London Authority now runs the project. Shonibare’s proposal was chosen for 2010, and is the first to feature an object directly engaged with the square’s namesake, the British naval victory during the Napoleonic Wars. The ship in the bottle is Admiral Lord Nelson’s HMS Victory, hung instead with batik cloth sails.
Shonibare spoke of the piece’s contemporary cultural significance to the Times:
“It’s very much a contemporary phenomenon that we take what we want from different cultures,” he says. “We might eat Indian today or hang out in Spain tomorrow. I celebrate that, it’s not unique to me just because of my African origins. It’s the way that most British people live their lives now. In a sense that’s what this piece is celebrating, it’s the legacy of Nelson. Nelson fought this battle against Napoleon and that meant that for the next 100 years or so the British had control of the seas. Which meant that the Empire could prosper and expand, and that process really did take in other cultures. One consequence of that is the very multicultural city that we have today.”
I just said:
Public art is often very broadly appealing, broadly but plainly abstract, or, if neither, then highly polarizing. It’s funny how art deliberately meant for the largest possible audiences often ends up failing those audiences in some way. I suppose that says something about the purpose of art and audience specificity, not to mention the “too many cooks in the kitchen” with all of the committee decision-making behind the scenes.but I didn’t mean to dis public art in general this way. In general, I think public art — government-funded or otherwise — is important, both for the entertainment of the public, but also as a starting point for conversations directly related to a community. There are a lot of great organizations and individuals out there creating worthwhile public art. My previous comment refers more to the comments before it. What I meant is that “too many cooks in the kitchen” — too many committees making too many decisions — can ultimately produce a work that fails its public in some way, by being either unchallenging or detrimentally polarizing. Overwrought art can fail anywhere, but especially in a public location. Conversely, maybe a public community can fail its artwork by disregarding its challenges. What do you think?