Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Charles Mudede on Charles Atla... | Who Will Kill This Electric Ca... »

Monday, July 28, 2008

Is That Fact or Fiction? Art or Not?

posted by on July 28 at 12:38 PM

Those are the central questions of the artists who call themselves PDL.

I’m remiss with this post, and I apologize. I meant to give you the report from the latest by the “This Is Not A Swingset” people when I got it two weeks ago. (I know! Sorry!) I couldn’t attend, but here’s the artists’ postscript from what happened the morning of July 12 at Kerry Park, along with an image of the installation, titled SQUATwhich will be followed up with another installation in the same series this Sunday, August 3, at the Olympic Sculpture Park.

At Kerry Park, the premise was to install a piece of sculpture that looked like the announcement of a public transit station that would carry people by tram from the top of Queen Anne to EMP. Signs would say that the City of Seattle, with sponsorship from Vulcan, was breaking ground on the station in August; nothing of the kind is happening. The purpose was to start conversation about territorialism in public spaces. “We felt like, it’s that everyone wants public transportation, but they don’t want it in their backyard, and everyone wants access to downtown, but they don’t want downtown to have access to them,” artist Greg Lundgren (the “L” of PDL) said in a phone conversation today. Some people enjoyed the play on misinformation (Iraq war, anyone?), other people took it so seriously that they contacted government officials to stop the (fictional) construction. The artists set up a fictional hotline; it received 20 furious voicemails.

Our installation was cut back an hour in a small effort to alleviate some political pressure from the Seattle Parks Department. Apparently there were more than a few people who took this at face value and well, phoned their way to the top of the political ladder. Those Queen Anne residents that were not signing a petition to halt the pending construction of SQUAT, truly enjoyed the installation. PDL considers the project a great success and sincerely hopes that any misunderstandings transformed into a greater understanding of contemporary sculpture. SQUAT is now dismantled and defunct.


Further defense of this sculpture may prove necessary, but for now, we’ll leave it with a fine quote from Marshall Berman:

“To be modern is to find oneself in an environment that promises us adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and the world—and at the same time that threatens to destroy everything we have, everything we know and everything we are.”

PDL would like to thank the Seattle Parks Department for understanding this, and allowing challenging work to exist in the public domain. SQUAT is part of an ongoing exploration of site-specific installation work, encouraging people to talk and discuss the foundations of sculpture and its role in contemporary culture. … We do encourage you to visit it the early hours of an installation, as PDL cannot guarantee the intended duration of a project.

PDL (at the moment Pihl/Dunkerley/Lundgren)

“I’m pretty sure that people aren’t going to look at a construction site on Queen Anne the same way for a while,” Lundgren said.

As for the event this coming Sunday, Lundgren said he believes the artists will be in Olympic Sculpture Park all day, and that they won’t be kicked out—Seattle Art Museum has approved their plan. “I’m really surprised they approved it, because they’re going to get a lot of heat for it,” he said.

He didn’t want to describe it; he wanted to save the surprise for Sunday. This will be the second of four planned public installations in the series. I have mixed feelings about telling you that it will be there, since the whole purpose of these installations is to stumble across them—so if you do go, don’t tell whoever you’re with. Let them have their innocence, because their innocence is PDL’s true medium.

RSS icon Comments


This installation was a huge success in Portland and Hong Kong; then they ruined it by actually building real trams.

Posted by A.Warhol | July 28, 2008 12:58 PM

I don't know (or much care) if it's art; it's wonderful, that's all. Kind of a grind-it-in-your-face to the city that doesn't get transit at all.

Posted by Fnarf | July 28, 2008 1:52 PM

Awesome. I makes me wonder though, is there some sort of ultrasonic signal that goes out any time something new or different might happen that only NIMBYs can hear?

other people took it so seriously that they contacted government officials to stop the (fictional) construction. The artists set up a fictional hotline; it received 20 furious voicemails.
Posted by rb | July 28, 2008 1:54 PM

I like the acronym SQUAT. Can we get a study on that one? It would be so lovely if we could name all of our city transit sytems things like DUMP, FART, SPLASH, etc.

Posted by Greg | July 28, 2008 1:55 PM

Thanks for the update! I actually swung by Kerry Park to catch a glimpse, but we were too late.

Posted by squidoo | July 28, 2008 2:27 PM

What's the difference between "art" and a "prank"? A permit apparently.

It always amazes me how humorless the artists are regarding installations of this ilk. It's pretty funny that neighbors called their councilman to get this shit stopped. So why is it always shit like "We wanted to make a statement regarding the lack of a two way dialog between the stakeholders in our community...blah blah blah"

Why can't they just admit that they thought it would be funny to piss off the neighbors by putting a fake building sign in a park?

Posted by gillsans | July 28, 2008 2:33 PM

@6: Because comedy wasn't their objective, it was merely a side-effect.

Posted by Ryan | July 28, 2008 6:34 PM

@6: People like you give art purpose and meaning. -Don't take that seriously. You don't really matter.

Posted by Static Invasion | August 3, 2008 9:28 AM

Comments Closed

Comments are closed on this post.