Thursday, June 4, 2009

Q&A: RedBall artist Kurt Perschke

New York artist Kurt Perschke looked at the world's public spaces a few years back. And did he see the need for a bench? No. A public washroom? No. Maybe some planters or bike racks? Nah.

What Perschke identified was lacking in public spaces worldwide was this -- a massive inflatable red ball. Yep, he's shown it from Chicago to Barcelona to Busan, and now it's hitting Toronto as part of the Luminato festival.

To be honest, from the online videos, it does look like this work is pretty fun. And a far cry from good ol' bronze "plop art." So it was enjoyable to chat with Perschke by phone about the project. Today, the National Post published the condensed Q&A. Here's an excerpt:

Q Online videos do show that viewers have a lot of fun with this piece -- running into it, touching it, playing with it. But most of the time we see art in museums, where it has an aura of "do not touch" seriousness. Can something ever be too fun to be art?

A Well, actually, I make lots of the kind of "serious" work that you are describing for museums and galleries. And I think to do something funny, and in public, is much harder. It's a very different environment. When you walk into a gallery or museum you know you're supposed to be looking at art. But if you are looking at art in public space, you don't have any of the crutches one has in a museum. Out on the street you're dealing with people's innate imaginations. I think the hardest thing is to get anyone to break out of their daily routine and get them to imagine, and this piece deliberately uses a moment of whimsy to make that happen. So the work is playful -- but it's playful in a very serious way.

Image for Perschke's Red Ball project in Portland, OR from

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