The article starts by telling us what site-specific art is: the site-specific art emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, which used to be an art form that combines space and artwork that obeys to the laws of physics, usually gravity. The site-specific art was tangible and associated with physical elements (such as length, depth, texture, shape of space. Etc.) Thus, the site-specific art, at that time, insisted on the principle of immobility even though in the face of being removed or destroyed.
The site-specific art emphasizes harmony between artwork and its site. That means it aims to establish an indivisible relationship regarding various dimension (such as vision, hearing, touching). Therefore, viewers feel the art not merely by seeing and hearing it. In complementary, the site-specific art needs audiences’ physical presence to make it complete.
Informed by the contextual thinking of minimalism, many artists conceived that site-specific art presents not only in physical and spatial terms but a cultural framework. Every single element in the site (such as the walls, artificial lights, and temperature) has the corresponding ideological function, which allows viewers perceive the artwork from more perspectives.
To avoid site-specific art become a commodity in the market, it changes its form from physical permanence to ideological conditions (information, text, exhibition, and education). In the meantime, the site-specific art’s primary concern is intensely blending life and art, calling for no division of art and non-art. The focus is to address in issues of the time, such as homeless, ecological crisis and homophobia. Thus, aesthetic and historical significance becomes the secondary concern.
The site-specific art was developing and no longer restricted to museum and gallery, but expended its site to include hotel, street, prison, hospital, and church, as well as media spaces like radio, television, and internet. However, even though the diversity in sites, there is no precondition defined by the specific location, the site art is generated by the work or content, but not the place, which means what the artwork conveys would not be affected by the site, but the artwork itself. For many artists, they need multiple definitions of the site to find the “site” of their works. For example, Tom Burr and John Lindell produce many projects in a variety of media and eventually established the issue of concerning the construction and dynamics of sexuality and desire. Therefore, site-specific art is no longer grounded and physical, but ungrounded, fluid and virtual.
Under the pressure of museum culture and the art market, photographic documentation, sketches and drawing and other materials associated with site-specific art become dominant. Therefore, many undiscovered site arts reappeared in high-profile exhibitions. Because of this, many site-specific works are relocated and rebuilt near where they were for the sake of saving money and avoiding destroying the originals. Besides, the new built arts are coming to coexisted with the old ones and it is accepted by art audiences. While the artworks re-fabricating makes people reconsider the historical significance of their artworks, at the same time, the saying that” to remove the work is to destroy the work” was overturned because the re-fabricating makes art transferable.
However, problems emerge in the situation, as some artists denied the authority of artwork that supposed to belong to them because the artworks are being re-fabricated without the artist presence. It doesn’t mean that site-specific art can’t be reproduced anywhere else, but if artists participate in the process of reproduction matters.