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Richard Serra's Public Sculptures and Site-Specificity

  • Journal of History of Modern Art
  • 2000, (10), pp.77-95
  • Publisher : 현대미술사학회
  • Research Area : Arts and Kinesiology > Art > Arts in general > Art History
  • Received : March 31, 2000
  • Accepted : February 29, 2000
  • Published : March 31, 2000

Hyesook Jeon 1

1이화여자대학교

ABSTRACT

This study is on Richard Serra's public sculptures and their 'Site-Specificity'. He wants his sculpture to become public by taking the spatial experience of its audience as a subject. But there is a gap between art and audience. It may be closed by bringing the audience into the art, by making spatial experience the very subject of the art. In this way, contemporary sculpture promise to overcome the conflicts that have jeopardized the very idea of public art, and yet the old controversies over public sculpture continue to be replayed. Even though the motive of contemporary sculpture is that of "actively bringing people into a sculptural context", as Serra says of <Tilted Arc〉, people still feel walled out to his sculpture so much. Serra maintained that the site-specificity of his work was determined as much by material social conditions as by aesthetic exigency. His stress on the site-spec1- ficity might be diluted by relocating or moving sculpture to another site which was not original place. In his sculptures, he hoped that they would redefined the space in terms of itself; and so they did - even beyond his expectation. He meant to confront the public in behavioral space' "in which the viewer interacts with the sculpture in its context" But, for example, his <Tilted Arc> would not literally interdict movement, but it would cause the viewer to feel blocked. The experience of oppression was real enough, but Serra wanted it to redirect attention to its actual source in the mechanisms of state power. His sculpture was merely a private sculpture located in a public space, rather than a work of public art specific to a particular public site; that is, Serra privatized a public space instead of creation a public sculpture in it. Since <Tilted Arc> was not site-specific, the court judged that the public was not destroying it by removing it; rather, the public was merely reclaiming a site for its own purposes. In this study, I would like to make clear of the self-contradiction in his concept of site-specificity, and to find out the hint of power in his execution of public sculpture. An important weakness of Serra's understanding of site-specificity concerns his view of the process for making decisions about public art. He did not regard the public who experienced his sculpture as people who had legitimate, aesthetic and other claims of the site. He was actually rather candid on this issue:

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