Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Liminal art?

I have been flying for many years now, and my first delay occurred last year. On December 17th my flight was delayed and for the first time I had to wait for a very long time in the airport. Once I have learned of the delay I ran to the airport's Starbucks along with a group of strangers waiting for same flight. We have occupied the big green comfortable chairs in the coffee shop. We took turns going to purchase more coffee and magazines, taking toilet breaks, and even napping, so that no one would take our places in the very desirable chairs. A first delay in sixteen years of flying...not bad.

I am interested in liminality in places. An airport is an example of such place. People don't actually live there, rather they occupy the space for a limited amount of time. For the travelers and passersby an airport is an in-between place of passage only, a threshold. Victor Turner (1920 - 1983), a cultural anthropologist and ethnographer, have written about rituals and rites of passage among tribes in central Africa. He noted that "in liminality, the transitional state between two phases, individuals were 'betwixt and between': they did not belong to the society that they previously were a part of and they were not yet reincorporated into that society." (Victor Turner, From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play (1982), PAJ Publications)

Can a gallery or an exhibition space where artworks are introduced, changed, installed for a limited time, be considered a liminal space? Are galleries simply a temporary places for the art, which will continue on beyond it, such as into the art market, to an auction house, destroyed by the artist, or stored in a vault? What is the artwork's final destination?

I like the notion of liminal spaces. I think we occupy them often. Does/can art?

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