“Finding Value”: An Installation at New Langton Arts, San Francisco, CA 1986
The announcement for this installation was the same as the card designed as a part of the work. The value finder card 9see enclosed) was generated from a card which painters use to mix color, and the text was rewritten to discuss value beyond color value, to include many other notions of value.
The gallery space was divided up into sections, and painted a different color corresponding to the values in the card. The work in each section then presented particular notions of value, and generated interaction between each section as well. The left side of the gallery utilized existing doors in the space as well as the images of doors. The images in this wall brought up aspects of the value of naming, with images of occupations on each door. The back wall consisted of transparencies of “window panes” hung in front of “windows”. The yellow window had images of crowds portrayed in the shapes of different countries- the idea being people seen by where they live, the green panel about events and people (i.e. the Vietnam memorial). The blue panel consisted of photographs of painters, ranging from an art star (DeKooning) to a Japanese fabric painter (craft) to the use of painters in advertising (cigarettes). The value of the kind of painter an artist is, is the question here. The red panels are images of symbols used to denote value, rating systems, etc. The pedestals on the right wall include value questions in relation to the nuclear issue, religious value, survival as value (antiques, religion), the books checked out from the local library and book titles constructed, that bring up other questions of value not portrayed specifically in the other sections (the book as a one liner). The next section, art as trophy, and art as seller of commodity 9its value to the market place).
The value finder cards on the last pedestal were available to the viewer as an integral part of the installation. Many people took these cards with them back through the show, and even held them up to the images on the walls. The images are generally set on or in the spaces of white within each value section. This was an attempt to keep the issues from being linked directly to the value behind it. Also, the window images, the notion of seeing though, the doors, going beyond or closed, and the pedestals denoting objectness.
This exhibition was designed to engage the viewer to question their notion of value, and to participate and interact with the work and the questions posed. Indeed, the average time a viewer spent with the work was about half an hour.