Touch Me

What: Touch Me – five signs at different locations at the building of the School of Art, Technology and Emerging Communication (ATEC) of the University of Texas at Dallas.

When: December 2016 – April 2019.

Touch Me aims to uncover power relationships and social norms imposed by the institutional authority of spaces such as museums and art galleries. By subverting hierarchical aesthetics to create unexpected situations, “Touch Me” provokes the public to reflect on the absurdity of the intervention and, by extension, question the norms established by the accepted rules of those spaces. Audiences/participants are encouraged to reflect on the spaces in which art is displayed, and on the timeless question surrounding what is considered art. These philosophical musings are likely followed by similar queries, such as, who determines what is art, who attributes value to art, under which circumstances this attribution happens, and so on. This project is inspired by The Museum of Jurassic Technology (Los Angeles) opened in 1988, and curated by David Wilson.

The idea for this projected started when I visited the Nasher Sculpture Garden, in September. “Do not touch the art” signage always bothered me, but it is understandable in the case of historic paintings and fragile pieces. In the Nasher, however, this signs accompany gigantic steel sculptures that can’t be damaged by human hands.The design of the space, which allow visitors to walk through and by the pieces, is also dissonant of the “Keep Off” signage.

I was inspired by the Museum of Jurasic Technology in Los Angeles, curated by David Wilson, and by the Theater of the Oppressed, by Augusto Boal, in the sense that both create absurd and surreal situations with established languages, instigating the public to think why that is weird, and further, why a different situation would be considered “normal”.

The process included studying the buildings signage “language” and designing a piece that would follow that aesthetics. The materials used were black acrylic laser cut, white spray paint, carbon, metallic contact paper, hot glue and 3M wall safe tape. The pieces are supposed to be displayed near touchable objects, like buttons and fire alarms. The criteria to define the places of display also included traffic and visibility.

By displaying “do not touch the art” signage around touchable objects,  the project hopes to challenge some art conventions and to start a discussion towards what is art, what is a space that displays art and who decides about that.