As we work our way west across Canada, heading home from Banff, I’ve been thinking a lot about artwork that uses some aspect of its content as part of its creation–pyrography to create pictures of burned forests, for example.
I also heard talks and saw examples at Banff where the resulting artifact, if any, is almost completely opaque to the viewer. Simon Starling, a winner of the UK’s Turner Prize, tore down a shed by a river in Germany, built a boat in the local style to float down the river to the museum where his show was located, and then reconstructed the shed as the exhibit. It’s clear this makes meaning for the artist — but what does it do for the local population? Who is the client for this work — the curator or the viewer?
Some artists contend the viewer is not needed to complete the work. Maybe so. But for myself, art isn’t “client-free”, even if it is internally driven.