I spent the day at CSM helping to make several inflatable cubes for the forthcoming climate change march here in London. The red line on each cube represents the line we must not cross in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Messages like Conflict Free Energy were stencilled onto the surface of some of the cubes.
I like the idea of direct action, although the implementation of a happening feels quite daunting. Nevertheless I have been considering ways that I could use similar methods to place art into the public domain rather than it being constrained in a gallery where only a select number and type of person would see the work.
I make a conscious decision to visit a gallery, usually because of personal interest in an artist or theme. I also feel that visitors to a gallery are more likely to be open minded in having their views challenged so for me restricting art to a single controlled environment like this feels like preaching to the converted.
Conversely putting an artwork into a public space indiscriminately expands the audience and opens the critical debate to all who happen to see it. An event or happening using objects like these cubes can provoke discourse across all walks of life. It can also attract attention through word of mouth by online social media sharing, as well as potential media coverage, a rapid and powerful way to spread an idea.
Sadly, the day ended in a very upsetting exchange with one of the other people involved. Having finished my task of making the handles I offered to lend a hand with attaching them to the cubes. I was aggressively told that that my help was not wanted since I didn’t know how to do it. The individual in question then proceeded to completely ignore me. Ironic since the slogan text on the side of the cubes read Conflict Free Energy.