I was at an opening the other day, and I wasn’t really getting the works on display. I thought they were ‘thin’, though others I talked to, whose opinion I would value, were excited about them. What got to me in the end was not just the works’ thinness – in my opinion – but the steps that had been taken to overcome this problem, primarily through placement.
In the traditional game of go, at which I’m lousy, you can place a black or white stone on the board, in open space, and if it’s placed well there is a sort of forcefield around it – you approach it with caution. Sometimes artworks are placed along similar lines: if you can find the right point within the exhibition space, the work can ‘activate the space’. I suspect the positioning may be tapping into the same mechanism that makes us sensitive to the golden mean. Whatever the process, the artwork becomes bigger than itself. Put another way, you’ve gone from artwork to installation.
Problem is, this trick of positioning can be used for good, or not. If you’ve got a work that’s just OK, but you place it well, you may just get away with disguising its inherent inadequacies.