Art and Social Change
Political art means making art politically (or something like that)
- Mark Daniels, Documentary Filmmaker
Engaging the public through non-conventional means is the heart of what we do. It is an attempt to forge a public discourse around civic and socio-political issues. To do that, we use new media with sculpture and find unlikely venues to build the outreach for our audience.
Since 1995, we have realized several public art installations, which combine large-format photos, digital prints, video, duratrans lightboxes, and ice sculptures. And, since last year, we integrate various social media to expand on the installation’s site-specific-ness.
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Our most recent work with ice, adds a fourth dimension to sculpture - time and duration. We build temporary monuments from ice, an ethereal, time sensitive material and we site the pieces in significant locations, to occur at historic moments in time.
The form of an ice sculpture is very comprehendible. There’s a feeling of familiarity that people are comfortable with when they see it. They can touch it; they can feel it. There’s a ready appreciation. These works seem to resonate on many levels: to witness Democracy or Economy disappear before one’s eyes is a profound experience. It’s an act that speaks, “the unspeakable.” The ice sculptures are event based, designed to allow interaction with the audience. In fact the public response becomes part of the work itself.
We sited our earlier installations in public libraries. For us the library is a beacon on issues of free speech, censorship, and first amendment rights. To frame these sorts of topics in the context of the public library not only broadens exposure of them, but provides a perfect stage to open a discussion on some of the most important values in our society.
Libraries and librarians have been crucial in defending our civil rights. The installations in the library focused on the impact of the culture wars on the arts and free speech. The goal with this work was to engage the public on topics that are vital and necessary to address. We aimed to provoke the public’s interest, engage their response and through that to generate a higher awareness.
In these public works, we try to balance an equation where the content of our work is as important as engaging its audience. For, without the public, “There is no there, there.”