installation art

installation art
   The term ‘installation art’ has been in common use since at least the mid-1980s, and ‘installations’ have become familiar sights in British museums and galleries in the 1990s. The Turner Prize shortlists have increasingly included such work by British or British-based artists including Vong Phaophanit, Douglas Gordon and Rachel Whiteread.
   The works to which the term ‘installation art’ refers are extremely diverse. If it is consistent at all, installation art is a hybrid form making use of techniques from sculpture, architecture, photography, film and video, and its artists are not identifiably ‘installation artists’ but sculptors or video artists who sometimes make installations. The work can often be physically entered by the viewer; it may be made for a specific site, whether a gallery or an outdoor site; it may damage or otherwise intervene in the space it occupies; it may be temporary; it may be apprehended in ways other than the visual. Precedents for the work can be found in some American art of the 1960s (for example Robert Smithson and Richard Serra) and the work of the British sculptor Richard Long. Some better-known examples of installation art include Neon Rice Field (1993) by the British-based Vietnamese artist Vong Phaophanit. Varying in dimensions according to its site, the piece comprises a field of rice with peaks and troughs as if ploughed; the peaks are accentuated by a buried neon light running their whole length. The piece attracted considerable media attention on being shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1993. Richard Wilson’s work has made more extreme interventions: Jamming Gears (1996) made a variety of incisions and holes on the interior of the Serpentine Gallery, London, artistically vandalizing the space (fortunately before the gallery closed for renova-tion). Anya Gallacio has become known for filling galleries full of sensuous materials, sometimes flowers; in one case the walls of a Manchester gallery were smeared with chocolate. Mona Hatoum’s work, based on the filming of her own body, has involved the creation of special spaces in which to view the footage, as has, in a different way the video artist Douglas Gordon. Other artists who have made installation art of note are Helen Chadwick, Nat Goodden and Gladstone Thompson. More sensuous than its 1960s antecedents, installation art has sometimes met with surprising popular success.
   See also: organic art; sculpture
   Further reading
    de Oliveira, N. (1994) Installation Art, London: Thames & Hudson.
   RICHARD J. WILLIAMS

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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