Viewed as static sculptures, his work is already impactful, but when the dying horse slowly begins to move and paw at the ground it spurred visceral feelings towards the animal and the pain. However, as with sculpture and many of Palma Rodriguez's other sculptures it was difficult to determine to what level the viewer had control over the motions of the sculpture. It begs the question of how much instruction should the artist provide the viewer? Is it important for the those consuming the art to understand exactly how they should be interacting with the art (or at least how the artist intended for them to interact with the art)?
I've also noticed how adults are often afraid to interact with art unless there is clear instruction. There was a child in the exhibit at the same time as me, who fearlessly ran up to each installation waving his arms trying to understand how each piece worked and how he would influence them. When I think about the work I want to create I wonder what the right balance of instruction will be in order to encourage adults to play and experiment as fearlessly as that child, but without giving them step by step instructions on how they are supposed to play and control the artwork.
Zhang Huan and Li Binyuan
On the other end of the spectrum 'Land', an exhibit focusing on the performance art of Zhang Huan and Li Binyuan provided ample context for the various pieces exhibited. Each piece was accompanied by in depth explanations providing context that often helped bridge cultural gaps for me. While some images and videos were striking without context, the information provided by the curator or artist gave me perspective that often moved the images from beautiful to meaningful.
In particular in Zhang Huan's performance where he continually climbs a bamboo tree and attempts to slowly lower himself back to the ground, having a description of the attempts encouraged me to spend more time with the piece. Without the context I probably would have watched a single attempt and then moved on, but with context I stayed to watch as he repeatedly climbed struggling with each repeated attempt. Even though I knew the ultimate outcome because fo the description I was almost more engaged because of that information, waiting in anticipation of the final outcome. Watching as he attempted to matched the strength of nature, showing power over the bamboo he bent, but ultimately the bamboo only bent while his own body broke causing him to fall.
Seth Price's larger than life prints of human skin create this deep sense of intimacy with the subjects while being completely anonymous. At first glance the images felt like sprawling landscapes, when in reality they were extreme close ups. Price's images reveal very little about the subject. While the exhibit lists the names of the subjects it is still unclear which image correlates with which name. Skin can often provide context for artwork. It can represent identity, culture, be a canvas for personal expression, but in this exhibit it has been abstracted to such an extreme it does not even feel like skin anymore. All the usual associations we may have with skin have been stripped away leaving us only with these contradictory images that provide incredibly intimate details about a person in the most abstract way.