El Lejano Oeste de las OportunidadesFrom Upheaval to Public Art
Every political and social crisis force reappraisals of conditions of production, reevaluation of the nature of artistic work, and reconfiguration of the position of the artist in relation to economic, social and political institutions, as Okwui
Enwezor puts it (Enwezor, 2007). William Morris was involved in syndicalist politics during the XIX century England and founded the Arts and Crafts movement, the XX century avant”gardes were directly influenced by the Russian and Mexican Revolutions and the dramatic expansion of experimental tendencies happened to be precisely during the political upheavals of the 1960″s and 70’s (Kester, 2011, 5)
Suzanne Lacy was a product of these political upheavals: “In this moment in California we had the great workers strike, we had the anti war movement, he had black power, the free speech riots at Berkeley, the Black Panthers”¦”
1. So when the social ground was laid and the groundwork was also laid coming from the art tradition around such figures as Joseph Beuys, Situationism, Fluxus and Kaprow, the experimentation in art could start. With all the reevaluation of the nature of artistic work, all the ideas that support it were put into question: the author, the work of art as object and the nature of the audience. The main idea was looking for an art that would be able to have a deep meaning in common people’s life, and of course, to obtain such utopia result one should investigate and experiment with new models, with expanded audiences, with dialogues, with collaboration and cooperation.
All this experimentation ended up in a new idea, a new concept for the “Public Art”. In MAPPING THE TERRAIN this new concept that started during the seventies come to a theory. During at Symposium at the MOMA in SF in 1992, Suzanne Lacy, Allan Kaprow, Judit Baca, Lucy Lippard, Mary Ann Jacobs, Arlene Ravene and other artists and thinkers set up the new definition for a NEW GENRE PUBLIC ART. This New Genre Public Art dealt with a new concept for creativity that went from the individualism to a new dialogical structure that has nothing to do with a final product but with a collaborative process.
In a way all this conceptualization has to do with feminism, since feminism is an open front against fix structures of gender and social classes. Feminism has to do with equality and with bettering everybody’s common life. Feminism has always been concerned with equality in society for every body, as New Genre Public Art is also concerned.
The place and context for all this dramatic changes in the art scene was California. It was a virgin territory, the “Far West of Opportunities”, as Lacy puts it
2. It might be this the reason for the new common spirit of experimentation, collaboration, working together and starting processes that wanted to empowered people all around the world.
1 Entrevista concedida por Suzanne Lacy para el documental: “Suzanne Lacy. Poniendo a la gente a hablar”. Tele UNED. http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/videos/uned/uned”suzanne lacy”poniendo”gentehablar/ 896107/
2 Toxic Lesbian, “Gender Identity and Public Art: Suzanne Lacy and Lucy Lippard Revisited” , Interview with Suzanne Lacy by Toxic Lesbian and Gloria G. Durán about New Genre of Public Art and gender identity. May 2012. http://www.toxiclesbian.org/id_eng/index.html
CIBERFEMINISM: THE INTERNET AS THE NEW FAR WEST FOR NEW OPPORTUNITIES IN THE DIGITAL GLOBALIZED ERA.
Women artists from “90s have developed new strategies to create and diffuse their artwork. Feminism and sexual orientation are two issues considered on their proposals. Ciberfeminism as social movement influences those artists to design their pieces in such a way the Internet is the main source of their inspiration.
Venus Matrix (VNS Matrix) is an Australian women artists group known from the beginning of “90s. They were one of the first using art pieces just created for the Internet and to be diffused by viral strategies. Many other artists have continued their way since then. VNS Matrix is an influence for Toxic Lesbian art work.
Donna Haraway is a well”known writer changing the traditional feminist considerations from a queer point of view, introducing the Cyborg concept. Gender defined, as a Cyborg metaphor will do a revolution in any trans”feminist women artist imagination. Many women have continued the emancipatory way that twenty or even thirty years before, other women activists or women artist activists had started.
Suzanne Lacy’s ideas about art and audiences, her definition of New Genre Public Art is part of the same theoretical and activist line. The XXI Century tools take into consideration the virtual representation space and that leads to a deep change, but this new way started many years ago.
The Toxic Lesbian research in collaboration with Gloria G. Durán and its Art Project would like to perform these connections. The aim is to design a Cyber Action with Suzanne Lacy. The subject would be taken from Mrs. Lacy’s most recent Art Projects and in relation with her interests. Another partner completes the scene: Matadero Contemporary Art Centre of Madrid. This public institution defines a programme directly influenced by all the topics Suzanne Lacy treated years ago in “Mapping the terrain”. Toxic Lesbian collaborates with Matadero from 2009 creating and managing public art projects there. The Lacy action is proposed to be implemented by the Matadero web page and the Toxic Lesbian viral networks. The connections mentioned will be a part of the piece and information.
ENWEZOR, Okwui. “The Production of Social Space as Artwork: Protocols of Community in the Work of Le Group Amos and Huit Facettes”. In Collectivism After Modernism: The Art of Social Imagination after 1945, edited by Blake Smitson and Gregory Sholette. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007.
LACY, Suzanne, Ed. Mapping the terrain. Bay Press. Seattle, Washington. 1995
KESTER, Grant H. The One and the Many, Contemporary Collaborative Art in a Global Context. Duke University Press, Durham and London, 2011.