News / art

Hole in the road outside bus station becomes art installation

By martin booth, Monday May 21, 2018

There has been a large hole in the ground between Bristol Bus Station and St James Priory for the last five months.

Situated directly outside Cafe Refectoire, no work has been carried out for the last few weeks on the rubbish-strewn void, which now has its own description in the style of an exhibition at an art gallery.

Entitled Portrait of the water company as an artist, this description appears on an A4 piece of paper attached to the railings surrounding the hole:

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“Described by the artist as a work of ‘co-creative self-portraiture’, this large installation forces itself on the viewer’s gaze, demanding attention while challenging the boundaries between artwork and passer-by, artist and installation.

“The sense of a moment frozen in time has obvious references to twentieth century pieces such as Tracey Emin’s My Bed, Cornelia Parker’s Cold Dark Matter and Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain.

‘The viewer is left to question the seeming abandonment of the installation, and in doing so is coerced into an active relationship with the art’

“Yet the public setting of this forceful work fundamentally changes the relationship with viewers of the artwork, compelling them to interact by avoiding the barriers that form an integral part of the piece, and inviting them to leave their own debris to co-create and re-create the installation as they interact with it.

“The exacting placement of the material components of the installation (tools, bricks, fences, hole) instantly brings to mind suggestions of a water company at work, but constantly exceeds simplistic explanations of the water company-as-artist’s motivations and intentions.

“A wheelbarrow, filled and refilled with rainwater and cultivating algae subtly suggests the passage of time, creating a cognitive dissonance with the apparent permanence of the other elements.

“The viewer is left to question the seeming abandonment of the installation, and in doing so is coerced into an active relationship with the art.”

‘The public setting of this forceful work fundamentally changes the relationship with viewers of the artwork, compelling them to interact by avoiding the barriers that form an integral part of the piece’

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