Works > Block Party
Block Party began as a public art experiment in November of 2016. As a means to engage the public in collaborative art-making, several reused cardboard boxes were turned into white "blocks". These blocks were then assembled into a free-standing sculpture during South Boston Open Studios inside a hallway of The Distillery, a live/work artists' building. The visiting public and fellow artists were then invited to help paint the surface of the sculpture with an array of paints and painting tools.
At the end of Open Studios, the "completed" artwork was tied to a car and transported through the area of Boston known as "the SoWa arts district" in a sort of one-float parade. The artwork was brought to East Boston, broken down, and placed in storage.
The concept behind Block Party was to create a temporary community around a collaborative artwork, providing access to art in a way that actively extended out to the public. The block creates a semantic nexus, relating to the imaginative (and often collaborative) play of toy building blocks, the "white cubes" of traditional art galleries, the packaging and distribution of consumer goods (consumption being the common way for people in a capitalist society to be culturally engaged), and neighborhood blocks.
The construction of the blocks into an aggregate structure explores the relationship between space and power. Although the structure creates a support surface for creative expression and cultural participation, it does so at the expense of public space and physical mobility. The structure becomes an inaccessible Brutalist architecture, asserting power through presence and form.
The act of painting the surface becomes a dialogue between the public collaborator and the architecture of power (though the paint can only function two-dimensionally, never changing the underlying structure). Unlike the structure however, the paint can vary in color and depiction of form through the will of the public, borrowing the language of mural and graffiti work.
In April of 2017 For this occurrence of Block Party, the blocks are unfolded, each box opened and affixed to the walls of the gallery. As before, the public is invited to contribute to the artwork, this time through the mechanism of markers and "Hello My Name Is" stickers, appropriating the tools of tagging.
The deliberate unfolding of the boxes presents a utopian possibility of public power. Space is made accessible by no longer being enclosed. The power structure flows within the contours of space instead of infiltrating it, accommodating and gathering around the public for engagement. The forms, once upright, can no longer stand for themselves and must be affixed to a support structure to remain open and exposed. Paint is unnecessary. The mere presence of the viewer completes the work. The act of tagging becomes a commenting within an established context instead of creating context.