On a visit to the Walker Art Center last week I was intrigued by the contrast between the clean, quiet interior of the museum and the muddy, noisy exterior of the museum. I decided to photograph places inside and outside the museum where these two worlds met. At these junctures, the issue of what remained visible seemed important. The architecture of the Walker Art Center invites the integration of the inside with outside, but because of the demolition of the Guthrie Theatre and the building of the new Sculpture Park this passage between interior and exterior is obstructed by white shades or plastic construction tarps.
As I walked inside and outside the museum, I found a range of blocked views. Inside the museum the view of the construction from the upstairs galleries is completely blocked, in lower galleries the view is only partially obscured. Outside the museum the construction remained completely invisible from Hennepin Avenue, but along the outer edge of the museum site the construction of the new Sculpture Park and the remnant of the Guthrie stage overwhelmed the pristine fašade of the newly redesigned Walker Art Center.
I became interested in issues of accessibility relative to Contemporary exhibition spaces after reading David Batchelor's book Chromophobia in which he theorizes about our culture's obsession with "the whitescape" that he defines as "a very paradoxical, inside-out world where open was closed, simplicity was also complication, and clarity was also confusion" (p. 10). Testing the ideas in Batchelor's book, I did a performative installation at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee INOVA Gallery last January called "I am sorry the gallery is open and closed" and for a recent exhibition only a portion of my work was placed in the actual gallery (inside the gallery were instructions directing the viewer to a site outside the gallery in an adjacent building where the rest of the show could be viewed). This photoessay is a continuation of these earlier projects. Exhibiting these photographs of the Walker Art Center on the mnartists.org website gives a sense of completion to this particular project since the Internet offers a whole new type of accessibility to Contemporary art and museum collections.
In addition to these conceptual concerns, I have very specific memories of visiting the Guthrie and the Walker as a kid growing up in Minneapolis during the 80s. Taking these photographs gave me a chance to think about the meaning of this place and to document a Contemporary exhibition space in a moment of transition.