The vast majority of Wendy Tai’s artworks are concerned with questioning and subverting the viewer’s perceptions of the space of the art gallery. Included in the brief for her most recent installation, Untitled, Tai commented that gallery visitors “are socially conditioned to treat artwork[s] as precious and sacred – we speak softly in museums, we maintain respectable distance, we are never to touch the work.” However, this is not the case with Tai’s interactive art.
In a move to disrupt the boundaries between the gallery and the self, as well as the distinctions between viewer and artist, the viewers of Untitled were invited to walk over the charcoal portraits on the floor of the gallery. The images included in this post display the progression from the originally defined and detailed drawings, which ironically picture gallery goers contemplating non-existent artworks, to the smears and footprints that have re-imaged the surface of the gallery floor.
The blurred palimpsest shows traces of what was initially there, but what I find particularly exciting about Tai’s piece is that the viewer is made an active participant in the art-making process. By literally walking on and effacing the illustrated gallery visitors, the viewer asserts his or her presence in the gallery and within the artwork itself.