Give-away Project III
Whereas the first two parts of Give-away Project explored the concepts of taste and value, Give-away Project III investigated the idea of release. Considering the photographs from Give-away Project II, I asked myself, How can I release these works? Fundamental to my artistic process is a belief that art has the ability to heal. With that in mind, I invited people to interact with the photographs from Give-away Project II, providing cleaning tools and body lotion that enabled them to release the pigment from the canvases. The cleaning tools and materials were inspired by the universal gestures of cleaning, gestures that unite us but are historically undervalued in society. The healing and softening properties of the body lotion referenced the healing properties of art.
Participants demonstrated individual preference though changes they made to the works and had the opportunity to connect with the prints and each other. The images changed constantly throughout the evening; all the individual contributions blurred together over time. Give-away Project III, subtitled Release, encouraged participants to be present, connect, and let go. I paired the interactive canvases with small paintings I had created that distilled the images down to their most basic forms. I repeatedly stripped away elements of the photographs until I was left only with the backgrounds — the truest distillation of the images’ content. These paintings functioned as a reference to “high art,” providing a stark contrast to the participatory, informal actions of the viewers engaging with the canvases.
The interactive elements of Release addressed value. Just as I had subverted traditional artistic norms in Give-away Project II by formally exhibiting documentation of a performance, in Give-away Project III, I encouraged viewers to touch and alter the art. Traditionally, touching art is discouraged in the art world, and rubbing away parts of images is thought to destroy them. These actions built a new creation of equal value to the original during Release. This illuminated not only how individuals value objects, but also how we value moments in our lives. In Give-away Project III, I was able to return what’s missing from life – fragile moments within cycles of creation and destruction.