Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Public Art always involves folks like you and me who seek it out, in whichever building or landscape it's installed, we're suppose to look , learn and enjoy. This process begins from the moment the Art is wanted and the project has been budgeted. From an Art installers point of view, companies/ individuals are allowed to respond to the RFP: the formal proposal of the project, only if they're eligible because they've navigated the process, proved themselves worthy and found themselves in a position to be asked. Whatever your credentials or ambition unless you know how to be recognized, even if you have all the necessary paperwork and insurances, you're not necessarily invited to submit a proposal to install the Art. If you want to do this and you are lucky to be invited in the room, get all the info about the project, attend the site visit and meet with everybody else who wants it too, it begins a personal and professional travail, at once cooperative and competitive, to get it done perfectly/ beautifully. This project involves a steel sculpture @ 107" x 72" x 13" with a steel pedestal @ 4' x 8' x 1", both @ about 1300 lbs to be installed in Manhattan. Because of the sizes and weights involved, the logistical difficulty of unloading from the street and bringing them both through a 34" door, the limitations of equipment choices in an enclosed space with floor load bearing restrictions and low ceiling height of 12' 4", professional rigging companies were brought in by the other Art Handling companies as their experts. Generally, Art Handlers have not been seen to be qualified to do this kind of work, even within their own companies, and justifiably so, these projects are dangerous. There is always something that cannot be planned, a tool which was not brought or a dilemma which creates an uncertain drama without an immediate answer. There is little training for this, certainly not on the job site. Luckily, I'm a stone carver who carves heavy, large stones. I love this kind of work and the energy and trouble shooting it demands. It seemed natural to me, early in wanting to do this professionally, seeing which kinds of people and companies were involved, that an Artist could find a place in this. I believe the installation process from start to finish is Art.
The Art Handler is an extension of the Artist, the representative of the person who made the Art: the aesthetic pathway the Artist expresses to us, from inspiration to object, who generally isn't there. We speak/ act for that person. However, the Art Handler, is bound by a pragmatic budget and the constraints of others involved where Art criteria, experience can be minimized because it's a business and competitive pricing is the major concern. Generally, it's for the better, limits have a way to help navigate the choices, however difficult. The Art Handler will have insight, sensitivity and do the right thing as if it is their own piece. We have practiced this on our own stuff and it's the technique which opens solutions. Anyway, the Artist myth is always about struggling, the Art part is making it work, regardless of the problems.
Who speaks for the Artist?
Posted by Ben Gage at 6:02 PM
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Art and Art Handling.
Hello, I am a working artist who makes a living handling Art. I specialize in installation and de-installation of large scale sculpture and paintings. I have been lucky to have been involved in many great projects for Museums, private clients and artists. Generally, my job is to make the Art work. In installation, I take things out of crates and boxes and place them where they look their best. Presentation is one of the final aesthetic steps of Art. How it is seen provides the opportunity for the objects inherent quality to be displayed and done well: amplified. Tuning to this idea has been a major component of my own personal work, as if Art is a frequency or an instrument, or better, the Artist is the instrument tuning to Art's frequency.
In this project I was asked to design a hanging solution for a set of chimes purchased in the last Art Basil Miami Show. The client had a similar, but much smaller chime, hanging from a tree, but requested a different solution for the much larger piece. After a few design ideas, we settled on this one. It's about 21' tall and 12' wide. It was a difficult install; we had to bring in a small crane
and with the surrounding trees and finished landscape in the way it took hours before we could pour the concrete footers. After the concrete set, we came back and installed the chimes. When the first bit of wind whispered through the the tubes the gong and overtones sang. The song was like an ancient bell calling.