Thursday, August 4, 2016

"one of the most out-of-touch art texts I’ve read in some time"

Outdoor Art and the Private Playgrounds of Privilege


Of the 25 sculpture parks discussed in the book, three are not open to the public at all. One is open only one day per year. Another is described to readers as “best viewed from a hot-air balloon.” And the majority of the others require you to request guided tours or access in advance and are open only limited times of the year.


There are numerous quotes that are so deeply backward as to be laughable if they weren’t tragic demonstrations of the book’s decidedly colonialist bent. In the third chapter, the artist Hannsjörg Voth describes his search for a location for his work this way: “I went in search of a primal landscape as yet untouched by human hands…” And then, just a couple of short sentences later, apparently with no irony whatsoever, Langen writes this about Voth obtaining access to land in Morocco, where he eventually placed his work: “He had to make endless visits to government offices before he was at last granted permission to build on the ancestral homelands of the nomads of the region.” Which is to say, the land had very much been touched by human hands, thousands upon thousands of them, over many centuries.