Installation art and site-specific art:
Changing your everyday space
What is “site-specific”? A site-specific artwork is one made specifically for the place where it is built in (whether indoors or outdoors). It is created precisely for that particular spot. There will be particular reasons why the artist has chosen the site, which may relate to the meaning of the work. The site, then, will influence the way we see and understand the work.
Weaving into the landscape
You are going to create a site-specific work somewhere on your school grounds. Your work must in some way change the way people react to, or interact with, their everyday space.
It might change the route they usually have to walk. Or it may make them look at some part of their environment in a new way. It might even invite them to notice, or enter, a space they usually ignore.
This particular site-specific piece will involve weaving in some way. In its literal sense, weaving is a technique that involves threading something in and out of a grid of some kind. But the idea of “weaving” can also can be metaphorical: for example, in the way we walk or drive through spaces; threading our way through crowds or through traffic; crossing through township or
You will need:
A carefully chosen site in the school grounds: see below
Weaving material, such as rope or twine, string, raffia, wool, fabric, plastic bags, grasses, reeds, long twigs, plastic binding for parcels, or any other material that you can weave with other materials found in the environment. These can be natural, like sticks or seedpods; or machine-made, like old nuts or hinges, or anything else that you notice that has potential.
A pair of strong scissors
A ladder, possibly
One or more cameras to share
Look for and identify a part of the environment that provides a place for you to weave, twist or plait – using rope, twine, string, raffia, coloured wool, fabric strips, plastic strips, or any other material with which you can weave.
- First spend some time walking around your school grounds looking for a good site for weaving into, such as a tree or a fence.
- You may spot other useable materials on the way. Collect these as you go.
- In choosing a site, think about the position, as that forms part of the work. Also, consider the structure itself, before you start: can people get inside of it? Or will they walk around it? Or stand under it?
- Think about the intended impact of the piece. Does it change the way people think about the space, or the way they use the space?
- When you have completed your installation, your class will go on a guided tour: visit each site, where each group present their site to the rest of the class for discussion.
- Photograph your sites, and document them in any other way you can.
- Most importantly, over the next few days, observe the impact of your piece on others in the school. Write down any changes in their daily behaviour, responses, comments and observations.
- All of these elements are an essential part of the experience of your installation piece!
To the Teacher
In this activity you will make an outdoor site-specific artwork, in the school grounds. Remember to check first that the school principal has given permission for this activity, as it will affect the school environment for some time.
Prepare well in advance, giving yourselves time to collect the necessary weaving materials you will require. It is important to collect as much as possible.