Cindy Allen -- Interior Design, 8/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
Confronted by an unfamiliar object in our breathless lives, the common though erroneous reaction is simply to cast the damn thing aside. When the problem is an intellectual one, we nonchalantly reject it and leave it behind. When the matter is of the heart, all we can do is try to forget as hard and fast as we can. So. . .when the encumbrance affects our senses, thoughts, and emotions—as art does—our little tricks and games are bound to be inadequate. That's when we move to plan P, as in pedestal.
Ever since Picasso's first salvo, in 1907, artists have made it their business to undermine our assumptions and complacencies. The rest of us have counterattacked with a certain guile—I remark not without a touch of guilty satisfaction—by raising art as high on a pedestal as possible, safely out of reach. We've made a new religion out of culture, with galleries and museums as places of worship and artists and curators as saints. (Hey, designers are in the creative business, too. We know the drill.)
Meanwhile, those adored artists have realized that pedestals are miserable little ledges, just as confining as gilt frames. Installation, performance, and video art proliferate, as artists worldwide take it upon themselves to knock down those towering pedestals where we have consigned art—and drag it willy-nilly back down where it belongs, among us.