While I was in Ohio for the holiday, I visited the Cleveland Museum of Art. Instead of seeing the Rodin sculptures in their usual place, I was surprised to find a gallery full of purple balloons. These balloons are a part of Contemporary British artist Martin Creed’s installation called, “Work No. 965: Half the air in a given space.” The installation ends today, so if you missed it, the video above gives a bit of a sense of it.
I was reminded of Allan Kaprow’s Yard (1961) [above], which was a space filled with tires. To experience the art one had to walk around on the tires, which asserted the viewer’s presence within the art. For such an art form, Kaprow used the term “Environment.” In his book Assemblages, Environments, and Happenings, Kaprow writes, “Environments are generally quiet situations, existing for one or for several persons to walk or crawl into, lie down, or sit in. One looks, sometimes listens, eats, drinks, or rearranges the elements as though moving household objects around. Other Environments ask that the visitor-participant recreate and continue the work’s inherent processes. For human beings at least, all of these characteristics suggest a somewhat thoughtful and mediative demeanor.”1
1. Allan Kaprow, excerpts from Assemblages, Environments, and Happenings, in Art in Theory, 1900-2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas (2nd Ed.), eds. Charles Harrison and Paul Wood (Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2003), 717.