University Of Tasmania
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Constructed situations : socialising a sculptural practice

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posted on 2023-05-27, 10:52 authored by Robins, J
Through a series of large-scale installations, this project has sought to challenge and reactivate the established logic and institution of the gallery. The installations consisted of constructed interventions comprising abstracted spatial conventions. Focussing on physical aspects of specific gallery spaces, the works aimed to provoke audience members to reassess their physical and psychological positions in relation to the use, history and context of gallery situations. The interrogation of diverse gallery spaces then determined a series of liminal environments in which autonomous sculptural objects and installations were made to exist in dialogue. The project built upon the historical legacy of Minimalism, and took up strategies drawn from the Conceptual Art movement, specifically the work of Sol Lewitt, Bruce Nauman and Michael Asher. Hal Foster's essay The Crux of Minimalism (1996) framed the initial research, while works by contemporary artists Elmgreen and Dragset, Monika Sosnowska, and Oscar Tuazon served as contextual references. In the course of developing the project, spatial experiments were contingent on the sites in which they were conducted, and the works employed key architectural forms: threshold, corridor, pathway and wedge. Vernacular building conventions and materials were used to limit and highlight the constructions' familiar elements and to subvert the austerity of the minimal objects. Characteristics from the built environment were brought into play: customary signifiers of public and private such as actual and perceived barriers, control of movement through lighting and floor covering variations, and lines of sight. These characteristics were engaged to mediate viewers' behaviour, their awareness and relationship to the exhibition space they occupied and, by extension, the constructed environments external to it. Geographer Doreen Massey's writing on the interrelation between space and the political was used as a lens through which to understand links between space, time, human movement and the construction of spatial relations. The main theoretical context for the spatial and social aspects of this research is Henri Lefebvre's theorisation of spatial production, in particular his triad of perceived/conceived/lived spaces, and Jacques Rancière's notion of 'the distribution of the sensible', a 'politics of aesthetics' that governs the form of the established social order. In focussing on, and mutating relations between viewer, object, and space, this project has addressed and extended the inquiry of object relations into an interrogation of spatial conventions and their capacity to have impact on, and determine, the social order of the gallery. Through its constructed spatial devices, developed in collaboration with conventions governing exhibition spaces, this project has sought to deliver an object lesson in the redistribution of the sensible.


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