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Yes, but Is It art? What an artist is obliged to share with her viewers
Colorado Public Radio

December 25, 2013

An antique typewriter sits in the middle of a gallery on a little table stacked with typing paper, envelopes and stamps. A sign invites viewers to write a love letter, address it and leave it in a box for the artist to mail.

When artist Nikki Pike proposed this piece, entitled “Love Letters,” to curator Carmen Winant for inclusion in the RedLine exhibit "An Invisible Boundary," there was no way that viewers would know that their words would be projected, in real time, on the back wall of the gallery where other visitors would be able to read them.

Pike worried that a warning would turn the exhibit into a game — "watch what I’m typing!" — instead of a channel for real emotion. Winant worried that the piece would be misleading and that viewers might feel violated if they learned after the fact that their personal correspondence had been displayed. RedLine visitors responded to “Love Letters” in a mixed way; one audience member who shared feedback with RedLine’s executive director, Louise Martorano, was unarmed by the lack of privacy, while another one used “Love Letters” to propose to his girlfriend.

Earlier this month, Pike and Winant sat down with Chloe Veltman to discuss their disagreement, what they decided to do with the piece and what all this has to tell us about the relationship between an artist and her viewers.

To listen to their discussion and see the full web package for this segment, please click here.

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