I’m currently working on a site specific installation project for one of my degree modules. This is the first time that I have had to respond so directly to a site and to create artwork that will appear in that same site. I felt pretty intimidated by the idea when I read the brief and, if I’m honest, I’m still nervous about the project. My biggest concern is interacting with strangers. I lead a reclusive lifestyle, by design, and find conversation with strangers to be panic-inducing. However, I am determined that this will not stop me developing my project in the way I want to.
So, where’s the site? I’ve chosen the bus shelters in my town centre as the location for this project and have identified a general theme of ‘waiting’. It’s something we all do and an experience we all share. We know it can be exciting waiting for adventures or happy events. However, waiting for the bus is rarely that! It’s something most of us have done at one point, whether we were too young (or hungover) to drive, too poor to afford a car, or it was just convenient.
I wanted to choose a site that had a sense of the ‘everyday’ about it. I live in a rural area on the edge of a town with a population of about 12,000. Now, that means I could have wimped out of engaging with anybody and created a site specific installation in a random field, where the only risk of interaction would be a sheep nibbling my artwork. And although this idea is still tempting, ultimately I’m interested in people and what they do and say and think. So, I decided on one of the busiest outside places in my town.
Now I’ve identified my site and brainstormed some general ideas about waiting, the next step is to spend some time at the site, taking photographs, short video clips and sound recordings. I’m hoping this will inspire some ideas that are based specifically on these particular bus shelters.
Links and further reading
If you’re interested in finding out more about site specific artwork in general, the Tate have a definition and some great examples here.
Gillian McIver (2004) has written a short essay on site specific installation artwork, which you can read here.