‘What is Installation?’ (Sydney: Power Publications, 2003) Eds Adam Geczy and Benjamin Gennochio

Sam Spurr


To ‘install’ is essentially to place an object or objects within a given space. ‘Place-ing’ is therefore fundamental: the act of placement, as well as the ‘place’ of this act. The ‘placement’ of Installation Art is a struggle against the confinements of medium specificity in art — which form or medium gets to exert its authority over the expansiveness of installation practice? In this collection of Australian essays on Installation Art, the editors acknowledge this battle, endeavouring to position their essays in a liminal field, each purporting a different set of defining boundaries.

As heralded by the title, this anthology shows that a single definition of Installation is continually being contested. Despite this, these essays suggest that the contest comes down to two specific forms; architecture and theatre. The collection makes it clear that the language of Installation is constructed out of the solidity of architectural terminology and the ephemerality of the performative. The adoption of such terms as ‘site’, ‘dramatisation’, ‘staging’, ‘dwelling’, ‘inhabitation’, as well as the constant references to ‘architectural space’ and processes of performance, such as ‘Happenings’, point to an emergent theoretical approach, itself a hybrid construction, where Installation Art resides between the performing body and the built form.

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