I wrote in a previous post about an idea for a location installation that I was semi-entertaining. Essentially the idea was to print onto plexiglass and install the images at the location in which I had taken them. It aligns with Nadav Kander's In The End, Is The Beginning. Towards The Thames Estuary and Awoiska van der Molen's Thousands a Second a Year recent installations. The impetus for these installations differs from one another, and in all fairness, I hadn't thought too far beyond my reasons for this kind of installation other than it would be more appropriate to engage with the land rather than the typical white cube gallery exhibition. Regardless, what I am interested in is that Kander's work is installed in a public space, whereas Van Der Molen's is positioned on a nature reserve, and thus most likely protected and more importantly away from passing traffic.
Kander's work has recently been subject to graffiti. Some are referring to this as vandalism, others with words to the effect of 'enhanced' or 'added to'. Aside from the coincidence of the first comment being from Awoiska Van Der Molen, who obviously considers the graffiti as vandalism, the debate in the comments is interesting, I've screengrabbed some of the more apposite comments below.
The two sentiments that struck me the most, were, firstly, from an artist called Adrian Wilson who asserts that if you put something outdoors in public space it will inevitably be at the mercy of the environment, be that natural or human force: 'You can either wipe it off or use it as an opportunity to do something new. But you can't expect to put something out at the mercy of the elements and not expect vandalism by either a storm or a person with a spray can. That's why it is public art, not gallery art. The interaction with life is part of the piece's story and by posting this image, you know well that this graffiti artist generates more publicity for the piece and attention to you as the artist. In return, you gave him the attention he wanted. A collaborative piece'. The second is the collective sentiment that both Kander and the graffiti artist are making a 'territorial marking', one commenter even likening both works to that of animalistic scent marking.
These comments make me arrive at conflicting opinions about putting my own work out into public space. I have a few reservations; first, my work is partially about the problematic relationship between humans and nature - do I really want to 'scent mark' the places I have enjoyed such sanctuary from modern society? It doesn't seem appropriate. Secondly, whilst I understand all the debate and comments in the thread, I lean more to thinking that I would feel upset if my work was 'enhanced/vandalised'. It of course conflicts with Barthes' notions of the 'death of the author' and the anticipation or chance of my work being vandalised is not the primary reason for not waiting to proceed with my own installation even if I just can't justify spending a lot of precious time and money in producing something that is going to be 'altered' by human hand. I have no problem with the forces of nature and actually, this is how I was starting to envisage the work - decaying into the landscape. But that goes back to the first reason and how interfering with the land just doesn't sit well with me. I like the work that Van Der Molen has made for the Into Nature Art Expedition, and I feel like my work could work well in a similar collaborative exhibition but for now, I am more concerned with establishing my project by more conventional methods and remain open to the idea that an outdoor installation, in the right context, could follow on at a later date.