Westspace Fundraiser [Art vs. Vandalism]

This is a re-imagined work, made from parts of an old sculpture - it originally looked like this - which I donated to the Westspace fundraiser exhibition. The title of the second manifestation of this sculpture is New Horizons. [Pun intended.] The exhibition itself was huge, with hundreds of works. Lots of local artists contributing to help keep one the city's most interesting art spaces going. It was a fun event.

During the opening night of the exhibition, the permanent work [pictured in the post below] I created for the gallery toilets was vandalised by one of the visitors [see above]. Aside from presenting the conundrum of how to remove spray paint from clear acrylic without scratching the surface, this unusual gesture got me thinking not only about the nature of art and it's permanence - a relationship which I have always endeavoured to keep buoyant within my work - but also the relevance of protest or revolt in an environment such as an artist-run gallery like Westspace. 

I have always felt that it is important to maintain a degree of indifference to the art that one creates, in the sense that once an art work is completed, the artist must relinquish a certain amount of control over the life of the work, particularly if the work is sold to another person. [Not to mention the inherent fact of the inevitable demise of all objects - i.e. entropy] It brings to mind the occasion when the Chapman Brothers purchased and systematically 'rectified' a collection of original Goya prints, by drawing psychotic clown heads over the top of all the heads in the etchings. Admittedly, the Chapman brothers' undertaking was more an act of sincere homage than one of mindless vandalism; but that didn't prevent people from seeing it as such. The point is that art may continue to evolve beyond its perceived end-point, particularly within the contexts of ownership and/or authorship and the relationship between an object and its audience.

The line between vandalism and the reinvention of an artwork seems to come down to both ownership and intent: Rauschenberg owned the de Kooning print that he erased, the Chapman Bros owned their Goya's - both admitted their reverence for the artist whom they appeared to be nullifying. Westspace were the owners of the vivarium, yet it was modified without their permission; and I suspect that the aerosol artist involved was not intending a make a tribute to my art. Even as a gesture of protest [which, according to the person responsible, it was] this is weak. The event was intended to generate money, specifically in support of Melbourne based emerging artists - a demographic which may well include the spray-can wielder - and was not for any kind of financial gain. This act of dissent was in complete opposition to the spirit of the occasion - one of community, inclusion and support. I believe there is a definite need for gestures which embrace rebellion and challenge the tradition of aesthetics and artistic representation, but for such a gesture to be of use, it must be made publicly - not behind closed doors.

1 comment:

  1. So much to say about this but I risk getting stroppy, so I'll leave it at: did you solve the issue of removing the paint successfully?