“The Functional Site” – James Meyer

from “Space, site, intervention: situating installation art” – ERika suderberg, 2000

Focus on origins of site specificity

  • Literal site: an actual, singular, location. Artists intention conforms to restraints of this place/situation. Formal outcome determined by a physical place. (e.g Richard Serra: Steel monuments designed for a specific place)

    Richard Serra, “Tilted Arc” 1981, Federal Plaza, New York
  • Functional Site: May or may not incorporate a physical place. Process/ operation occurring between sites. “Mapping of institutional and textual fictations and the bodies that move between them”. (e.g Robert Smithson)Temporary vs for eternity. Mobile site is self-destructive, “wilfully temporary”, it is in its nature to come down, or to barely physically exist at all.

Becomes a critique of the gallery? Site specificity originated in the gallery. Makes the viewer conscious of their body within the space. Site specific work is “aware of its surroundings” as opposed to modernist work which simply existed and was hung – surroundings not important. Created somewhere and hung somewhere else.
Merleau-Ponty: Presence. Experience of actualness and authenticity to counter an increasingly “one dimensional” society.

Becomes a critique of “the system”. Aesthetics of minimalism with the real space and time experience of site specificity. e.g Lawrence Weiner, Bochner, Buren.

Daniel Buren, “Les Deux Plateaux” 1985-1986, Palais Royal, Paris

Crimp: Meaning of minimalist artwork created by “situated spectator’s” perception of the object in relation to the site of it’s installation. Attack on the prestige of the artwork and artist. Power transferred to viewer.

Today, work has begun to explore the “expanded site” (not just site specific within a gallery, i.e minimalists).
– E.g “Platzwechsel” – 1995 exhibition by Mark Dion, Ursula Biemann, Christian Phillip Muller and Tom Burr. 4 distinct points of view.
– “Devoid of a unique place, Platzwechsel led the viewer on a “tour” from one landmark to the next”
– The work is thus not a single entity/ the installation of an individual artist in a given place. It was, instead, a function occurring between these locations and points of view.
– Kunsthalle became an “elaborate non-site”. “Fabric of allusions”
– Installations and texts set up a semantic chain that “traversed physical borders”
– e.g concrete plinth by Muller alludes to monument in the park
– e.g wooden ‘surveillance booth’ = turrets of museum
– e.g flora and earth taken from park and put in hall
– e.g oral accounts of parks visitors

Mark Dion, Ursula Biemann, Christian Phillip Muller, Tom Burr, “Platzwechsel” 1995

“Mobile Site” : happenings, situationism, Richard Long (walks), On Kawara (postcards), Tadashi Kawamata (temporary shanty towns), Andre Cadere (“Barres de Bois Rond”).

Andre Cadere, “Barres de Bois Rond”, 1970’s

Robert Smithson: “work exists in the OVERLAP of textual account, photographic and film recording, guided tours by the artist, and the literal site”
– “Place… is a vectored relation; the physical site is a destination to be seen or left behind… it is only temporarily experienced…if it is seen at all” – the site / physical ‘thing’ itself becomes of little importance.
– Network of sites referring to an “elsewhere”. Non-site / site.
Owens: “The Jetty is not a discrete work, but a link in a chain of signifiers which summon and refer to one another in a dizzy spiral”
– Spiral Jetty now exists only in film, photo, narrative, maps, diagrams, drawings etc. In fact the title “Spiral Jetty” actually refers to the film made about the jetty, rather than to the jetty itself.

Robert Smithson, stills from “Spiral Jetty”, 1970

“Mobile notion of site and a nomadic subjectivity”
-Martha Rosler: travel snapshots
-Stephen Prina: gallery critiques
– Gabriel Orozco: floaty balls, scooters
– Rirkrit Tiravanija: tents and dinners
– Renee Green: “secret”. Sleeping in a tent in the exhibition.

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