In the fall of 2011, we created a work called Here There, There Here with our friend Laurel Broughton for “High Desert Test Sites” the experimental outdoor art program initiated by Andrea Zittel. We installed a 2 mile x 5 ft wide line of industrial felt in the Mojave Desert. The installation took a few days and as it progressed, the work became increasingly visible from points as far as 10 miles away. We noticed something interesting. While we were working, hundreds of people came by to ask us about what we were doing. They were totally at ease and we had some amazing discussions with people who seemed to have very little knowledge or awareness of art. We discussed the scale of the desert and space and how it affected who we are and how we feel. When the piece was finished, people treated us different. They were much less talkative and seemed intimidated and suspicious of us. We decided that when something is being made, their is a basic intuitive understanding present… a set of living ideas.
We wondered why are people afraid to ask a curator a question about what is going on with a work but feel comfortable asking a neighbor about a birdhouse he is making? How could we fix this?
We used the Walker’s Permanent Collection as a way to explore these ideas further and built about 25 pieces with the public on a stage outside the museum. They were installed on outdoor stages. We wanted to see if the sweat and sawdust of making something, made people feel more open about some of the more difficult works we love.