Institutional Wellbeing

Institutional Wellbeing: An Olfactory Plan for Colorado State University, Pueblo, site responsive painting and sculpture, bottled fragrances,  2007

Notes and Curator's Remarks

 I don't typically participate in group shows. Not that I wouldn't, but I am rarely asked. It makes sense to me, because the nature of my work often exists in a liminal space between art and something else; in the intoxicating presence of straight-up "art" my work tends to have a kind of sobering effect. And who wants that? However, when Caroline Peters asked me to participate in a show she was curating at Colorado State University, I immediately accepted. Caroline is equal parts brilliant, irreverent, and mad, so I figured this would be an ideal time to test how Institutional Wellbeing stood up in a group exhibition setting. It helped that there was a need in the Department of Art at CSU for Institutional Wellbeing. Apparently, the university's board of governors had recently adopted a new value system that threatened the department's autonomy. So I made an environmental wellness fragrance for the department called Ethic, which was displayed in a Koons-like equilibrium chamber next to a gallery wall that was completely tagged up with graffiti.

 Here is the curatorial statement that provides a context for the project:

 Food, oxygen and water operate similarly to art in that they are external entities that cause internal changes in those who consume them. The difference is that while we clearly understand the effects of the former, our perceptions about the functions of art are more muddled. Studies on consciousness imply this may be the result of our dependence on the somewhat passive sense of sight for perceiving most art. The experience we can gain through the nose and the mouth is, by comparison, much more direct. Additionally, the amount of penetration that art has - especially contemporary art - is often dependent upon experience, education and culture. In contrast, the absorption of food, water and oxygen is democratic - everyone does it in more or less the same way.
The title of this exhibit, spongexsponge, is meant to imply the possibility of direct absorption of art ideas into the body.
-Caroline Peters, Curator