Fences to prevent loitering; spikes on building ledges to deter sitting; pylons to direct traffic flow—all ways of controlling our physical movement in a city’s supposedly public spaces. With the heightened anxiety and climate of fear that grew after the World Trade Center attacks, these structures sprung up in cities across America, forcing people to forfeit their physical freedom in the cause of public safety.
In its new site-specific installation, Barrier (2009), Type A, the collaborative team of Adam Ames and Andrew Bordwin, explores these sculptural forms and their effect on the public. The project takes inspiration from Jersey barriers, concrete traffic barricades that have been increasingly used to secure urban sites from terrorist attacks. Now curved in a 60-degree arc, Type A’s barriers add an organic, rhythmic, and alluring element to the traditionally severe and staid form. Obtrusive yet graceful, Barrier retains the authority dictated by such public objects, forcing visitors to drastically alter their relationship to the space. As the artists note, Barrier “raises inconvenience to the level of ultimatum.”
The print Barrier (Proposal to Protect) is from a series of plans to fortify sites by surrounding them with a winding row of barriers. The project explores our desire to protect just about everything around us, from financial and government institutions to schools, homes, and cars. As the artists observe, “eventually we will be protecting neighborhood restaurants and stores, the trees in our front yards, even the leftovers on our kitchen tables.”
Type A lives and works in New York. Their work is currently on view in a solo and group exhibition at the New York galleries Goff + Rosenthal and Armand Bartos Fine Art, respectively. In June 2010, they will debut a new, site-specific project for the opening of the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s new 100 Acres Art & Nature Park.