Birth of the Audience is a project in which I sent hand-made, one of a kind works of art to strangers, chosen at random, with a letter explaining the project. There are two main purposes to Birth of the Audience: To create an audience for my art work and to create another avenue for public access to the arts. I am giving art directly to my community.
The idea for the name of this project came from the 1967 essay Death of the Author by Roland Barthes. It questions who is the real author of any given text. Barthes argues that text is created through many different influences (cultural, religious, previously existing text, family, music, other people’s ideas, etc). When we evaluate a text we decide what we think it means regardless of what the author intended. We alter the world through our own interpretations and belief systems. We interpret everything in our own way through our own influences and unique knowledge base. I love multiple interpretations. Everyone has a different opinion about what something means to them. Birth of the Audience is influenced by this notion. There can be no death of the author without the birth of an audience.
Why give art to strangers?
There are many reasons why I want to share my art with strangers. Strangers are who would be viewing my art if it were hanging in a gallery or being sold at a market. So really I’m recreating a gallery in my community. Traditional galleries limit public access to the arts and art’s access to the public. There are many people who may not have easy access for many reasons: transportation, difficulty with location, hours of operation, not enough time, no one to go with, money, intimidation factor, family, etc. Sharing my art this way takes away the need to negotiate galleries and markets.