Dis-location

A different example of such temporal-spatial puzzles is found in Room for love 1990, which contains a conversational or ‘tête-à-tête’ chair, an S-shaped two-seater sofa, sometimes called a ‘love chair’. In such a chair, two people sit in close proximity facing in opposite directions, although they can also converse face-to-face. For Hastings, the analogy alludes to the often-fraught dynamics of social interaction as well as to the reception of art: ‘the chair was intended as a conversation with oneself when one looks at a work of art – where two opposing views are struck – literally –while there is also this third, reconciliatory view of turning halfway toward the oppositeview’.1

The analogy is highly suggestive. For instance, this piece of writing aims to explicate the work for a reader who may have already experienced it, but like the ‘tête-à-tête’ chair it aims to turn the viewer around again to face the work, although differently. It may even extend the understanding of the work beyond conceptions ordinarily entertained by the artist. The analogy also recalls the puzzled status of art in the wake of post-minimalist art, which prompts questions such as: what is the ordinary, quotidian object and what is the artwork? What does it do? As the art historian Thierry de Duve notes of the minimalists, ‘far from freeing themselves “from the increasing ascetic geometry of pure painting”, the minimalists claimed it and projected it into real space’.2 This is what Hastings does, except that she stage-manages this extended state of puzzlement over the status of art.

1. Gail Hastings, private communication with author.
2. Thierry de Duve, Kant after Duchamp, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA 1996, p 218. 

Exhibition
Date: 09/Oct/1990 to 26/Oct/1990
Curated by: Robert Owen
At: RMIT Gallery, Melbourne
List of Works: Room for Love
Bibliography: Carolyn Barnes, ‘Dis-location’, in Robert Owen (ed.), Dis-location, exhibition catalogue, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne 1990, p.6.
RMIT Gallery

Storey Hall
344 Swanston Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Australia

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