LentSpace, a temporary museum?

LentSpace at Varick St and Canal Street

LentSpace at Varick St and Canal Street

Abutting the entrance for the uptown 1, Canal Street train, currently sits an outdoor exhibition of art.  Surrounded by a chain link fence that suggests a construction site, this large, open space has become an exhibition/public park.  The works and space constantly play with the surroundings and questions boundaries and art.

The NYTimes recently blogged about the occurrence of vandalism on one of the pieces currently exhibited.   see the blog here .  Someone gratified “This is not art” on Pompey’s Folly by Ryan Taber.

The graffiti has now been removed from the piece, but a feint black cloud of where the big letters appeared stands in their place.  If this work had been exhibited in a museum, one with walls and security guards, this offensive graffiti could have never occurred, yet in this outdoor setting it did.  This raises questions about society’s notions of art and its assumptions and understandings of it.  This is an explicitly outdoor, public art event and space–temporary museum if you will–do the same rules of museums and behavior apply?  Is art only art when its in a “museum?”  Should the graffiti have stayed on the piece?



3 responses to “LentSpace, a temporary museum?

  1. I actually know a little bit about this site. The empty lot was formerly the site of an old bank building full of artists doing interesting and edgy things with media, film, sculpture, music, textile, painting, poetry, etc. I attended many openings and events there over 15 years. The artists were eventually evicted when the owner wanted to develop profitable condo towers. Now with the economy stagnant and all residential construction on hold they have decided to open an ‘artspace’ on the empty lot they created. In a perverse way this act conjures the spirit of what they destroyed. I think there a trend among developers to “Evict and Evoke”. South Street Seaport is another great example of this. In a more suburban context it would be like Snowy Owl Lane or Spring Meadow Acres.

  2. I do think it is interesting to look at how people response to art in the public space. Even if I do not think people should graffiti their opinions on the work itself, I do think that there should be a more open debate about what is “art” in our society.

    Also, the actions outside the museum do differ greatly. This art piece is in a public space in New York City, of course someone will do something to it but isn’t that the risk one takes. Some people probably think that it is not art at all. All of this also raises the question of who do museums target and who attends museums? If people act a certain way in the museum why is that? I just find the “why” people react and interact in these ways that interesting part.

  3. In response to “is art only art in a museum” I want to make note of the graffiti in Queens. If you take the train to Queens, you can see the overwhelming presence of graffiti. It is beautiful, creative, and most importantly, a great distraction from the crowded train. Location is, in my opinion, the smallest factor when deciding whether something should be considered art.

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