An Ordinary Space
The Big Table Gallery is an interactive space in the Baltimore Museum of Art that changes themes on a regular basis to correspond to the collection and rotating exhibit in the museum’s Contemporary Wing. The past two iterations have been designed by Post Typography, and Ellen Lupton and J. Abbot Miller. David Plunkert of Spur was brought in earlier this summer to develop the room for the new exhibit “Extra-Ordinary Objects,” which opened Oct. 17 and will run through 2015. The collection features work by Robert Rauschenberg, Rirkit Tiravanija and Nick Cave, among others. Given the nature of an institution like the BMA, and the educational goals of the space, it was by necessity a collaborative project between Spur and the client. Plunkert talks more about the project below.
What is your goal for the project? The goal was to illustrate the questions that the BMA developed to best explain the use of common objects in contemporary art in general, and specifically about the artworks currently on view. We felt the best way to achieve this was by using common objects as the medium for the message(s). There was the risk that the objects placed inside the IKEA Billy bookcases would come off as imitations of the art in the larger exhibit, but the systematic approach and the type on the plexi-glass makes them distinctly visual communication by way of graphic design, as opposed to an open-ended artistic comment. Everything in the room is stuff you could find in your pocket, in a drawer at home, or easily purchase at Home Depot or IKEA. There’s a primary focus on activities in the room for all-ages that are centered around the big table, including blocks filled with various items, and making fabric assemblages on magnet boards.
What are your favorite objects? My two favorite objects in the room are the kicking leg and the pencil sign. The kicking leg fits really well with the artworks in the gallery and gives the viewer something to touch and interact with on a more playful level than most other things in the museum. The pencil sign was born out of a rejected thought for one of the question cabinets. We built small models of the sign, so we were confident it would work and change at different angles, but we were pleasantly surprised with how much it shimmered once it was installed.
What do you want viewers to take away? That there are interesting aesthetic, playful and conceptual possibilities in everyday objects, and that art isn’t necessarily just a “pretty picture.”
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