Testing boundaries


testing boundaries – site


The work, an 80×60 cm mirror tray with diamond shaped soaps with dust,  will be placed in a toilet room of a law office on a wall against the toilet room’s mirror:

  • in a way this will “force” the viewer to look at the work and spend some time examining the work, at least for the time washing their hands.
  • an infinite landscape or a cyclone will be created, where the viewer will become part of the work, the soap and the dirt.
  • the cleanliness project has a direct meaning with the toilet meaning
  • it has also a link with the law office, money laundering laws and regulations.

The challenge will be to document the viewer’s reactions and thoughts of the work. Even when works are being exhibited in galleries or museums you cannot force people to tell you their opinion, especially when the artist is present comments are more or less predictable and positive. So you never get the real thoughts and criticisms. Having these in mind I will prepare a simple questionnaire to be given to anyone that will comment on the work. This will be done in a casual and informal way by my assistance (on purpose not by me). The viewer will be “forced” to view the work, it will be part of it anyway, so in a way they will be indirectly guided to comment about it. The questions on the questionnaire will mainly deal with what do they understand of the work, whether they recognize the materials, whether the soap smell reminds them of something, what do they think of the space chosen for the work to be placed. In general to get an idea how and if the viewer engaged with the work in any way.

art and meaning



Microscopy of Dust Sample Collected from the Nelimarkka Museum, Alajärvi, Finland and the Barcelona Contemporary Art Museum, Barcelona, Spain, from https://www.featureshoot.com/2013/05/microscopic-photos-of-dust-collected-from-the-worlds-best-art-museums/ (accessed 11.02.2018)

  1. What is‘meaning’within art?

In contemporary artmaking, meaning has a dominant role in terms that the identity of the artist is being abolished and that works aim at the activation of the viewer. In other words contemporary art is evolved around the audience, how the audience will react to the work, and what meaning will the audience give to a work. Almost as if the role of the artist is secondary, trying to catch the audience’s attention in visualizing the contemporary way of living.

The meaning of art may be defined as the combination of two factors: the life subject matters and the materials of the art. Both these factors are transformed within the work into a new systematic artistic unity. The art materials already have perceived characteristics with aesthetic meaning (colour, texture, sound, rhythm) which are then transformed by the artist, resulting in an internal aesthetically systematical meaning.

The intellectual background of the work plays an important role and informs its meaning and “beauty”. Artists tend to inform their work with strong theoretical background, sometimes almost to an extent that is not understandable by the audience.  Τoday we characterize as beautiful or interesting or with meaning works that represent the disturbing /bad reality, works that are shocking, frightening or look ugly. Is the artist aiming in catching the reality? Are the audience exposed in such a great number of images that the artists is merely trying to follow what is happening in the world? So does meaning in a work actually means reality?

  1. Is there a universal meaning to a work or will there always be a battle between objective and subjective?

The meaning of a work may be reinforced by the use of symbols (in the general sense of colour, shape, form etc) which create a symbolic language and they form concepts. For the artist a symbol refers to a specific meaning and has a specific reference. However, several other aspects might be considered: is meaning and feeling the same, and if a feeling is created through a work does this add value to the work. Does a symbol has the same meaning for all? Is there a universal meaning to a work or there will always be a battle between objective and subjective. Even if we try to set a logical explanation or definition to the use of symbols and thus the creation of a universal meaning, we reach a point where psychology comes in the picture. Freud said art is a sign or a symptom of the individual’s unconscious, on the other hand Jung said that a symbol is not a symptom and it should be understood as the expression of an intuitive perception. Unconsiously or intuitive, each artist is aiming in establishing a dialogue with the audience, in setting a meaning to the work which will be universally understood.

  1. What role does meaning play in your work.

What I intent to do through my work is to tell a story. Whether this will be considered as the meaning I am not sure. I think that the meaning is the reaction of the viewer. It is not an action controlled by the artist as the work might receive different responses and so interpreted in a variety of meanings. Meaning can be a self-contradicting idea: on the one hand the meaning of something might refer to something specific (for example an artist’s intention in using many empty plates refers to hunger in Africa); on the other hand something might have different meanings for different people (empty plates might make someone think of the amount of food they ate the day before and that they should go on diet), or get a different meaning if placed in a specific area (someone might hang the empty plates work in their kitchen, another one might place it next to the image of a skinny top model) etc. So I cannot say that I think of meaning when working, I think that I should be consistent to my story telling, to the context of my work. How this will be interpreted and what meaning will have for the viewer, this is beyond my control.

References (accessed through OCA Library)

Mikkel Bolt Rasmussen, “Art Revolution and Communication – On the Transcendence of Art and Meaning without Reality”, Third Text, Vol. 26, Issue 2, March, 2012, 229–242, www.tandfonline.com

Louis Arnaud Reid, Meaning in the Arts, (Taylor and Francis: London, 2004)

Abigail Diamond, Terms and Strategies of Engagement: Perspectives on Constructing Meaning and Value in Contemporary Art, Thesis, Nottingham Upon Trend (2006)