A handful and a half of Portland2010 Biennial artists talk about their installations at the Templeton Building tonight. Specifically, they’re talking about "approaches to site-specificity in installation," one of my personal favorite topics. Curators and artists toss around the term "site-specific" so loosely that it is virtually meaningless. No, that’s not fair. It usually means an installation in a space. Period. Robert Irwin makes useful distinctions about the relationship of an installation to a site/space, distinguishing between site-adjusted, site-determined, site-specific, and site-dominant.
From Robert Irwin’s Being and Circumstance: Notes Toward a Confidential Art and included in my favorite Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art:
1) Site dominant. This work embodies the classic tenets of permanence, transcendent and historical content, meaning, purpose; the art-object either rises out of, or is the occasion for, it’s ‘ordinary’ circumstances — monuments, historical figures, murals, etc…..
2) Site adjusted. Such work compensates for the modern development of the levels of meaning-content having been reduced to terrestrial dimensions (even abstraction)….
3) Site specific. Here the ‘sculpture’ is conceived with the site in mind; the site sets the parameters and is, in part, the reason for the sculpture.
4) Site conditioned/determined. Here the sculptural response draws all of its cues (reasons for being) from its surroundings. This requires the process to begin with an intimate, hands on reading of the site.
We could also talk about site-inspired, site-denying, site-nuzzling, site-bullied, and on and on.
Damien Gilley, Jenene Nagy, and Oregon Painting Society have all made extraordinary installations at the top of their games for Portland2010. Should be a good discussion.
Tonight, Friday, April 16 from 7-9 PM at the Templeton Building (5 SE 3rd, Underneath the Burnside Bridge).
Here’s a conversation with Irwin on ArtBabble.com.