Birth of the Audience is a project in which I sent hand-made, one of a kind works of art made by me 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. Roland Barthes argues that when a text is created its done so through many different influences (cultural, religious, previously existing text, family, music, other people’s ideas). When we evaluate a text we focus on what the author thinks even though none of the ideas originally come from them (they come from the author’s influences and ideologies). We evaluate what we think the text means regardless of what the author intended. We alter the world through our own interpretations and belief systems. We all interpret things in our own way through our own influences and what we know. To me, multiple interpretations is one of the most amazing things about artistic creation. Everyone can have a different opinion on what something means to them and everyone is right. No one can tell you how you feel about something.
Birth of the Audience is influenced by this notion. There can be no death of the author and multiple interpretations without the birth of an audience. If no one sees my work or thinks about my ideas, then no other ideas will grow out of it.
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 situation 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 a multitude of reasons: transportation, difficulty with location, hours of operation, not enough time, no one to go with, money, intimidation factor, family, etc. Sharing my art as I am in this project obviates the need to negotiate galleries and markets.