By Rob Hassler
A few weeks ago I woke up from what can only be described as a thesis driven dream. In my dream, I went on a tour of several museums, not for their artwork, but for the meaning of their doors or entrances, and how each set of doors meant something sociological in relation to the museum. What some might see as a sure sign of thesis obsession (you are supposed to laugh), I saw it as a breakthrough of something else I had encountered through my research.
In undergrad, my capstone course for Art History was titled House, Home, Hood…
which was taught by architectural historian Kostis Kourelis
and focused on investigating the interdisciplinary conversations that have developed around the study of domestic architecture in art history. More importantly, I gained an understanding of how architecture can shape the way in which we interact with both humans and objects. What does all of this mean in relation to my thesis and why is this important? Plain and simple, alternative spaces architecturally are nothing like most museums, establishing unique relational roles in human to human interaction.
Stated beautifully by McManus Galleries and Museum
, “Museum buildings have a significant impact on the visitor experience. Visually absorbing the external and internal architecture is often the first stage of this experience…” Museums come in all different shapes and sizes, but as “icons” they are deemed as sacred locations of art that must be respected as such upon entering. The difference in alternative spaces however, is that they are much more similar to houses or places where friends go to hang out on the weekends, leaving all pretentious ideology at the door.
After talking to several people within the alternative art space world, one similar theme came up in conversation. Among the things that made alternative spaces unique and attractive, was the notion of comfortability. Have you ever entered a museum and felt that you had to have knowledge about the art in order to be there? What about the feeling that unless you were an expert on the subject, you shouldn’t really voice your opinion? These are the walls that are often broken down when it comes to alternative spaces. Those living within the alt. space world agree, that one of the major reasons visitors find it so easy to return is that they do in fact feel a sense of comfort and belonging.
Thus, this revelation in research ultimately comes full circle back to my capstone Art History course senior year. The structure of alternative spaces are less like museums, and more like the comfort of your own home. As your home serves as a place to return to for privacy and relaxation, it also serves as a location to spend time with your closest friends and family. The structure of alt. spaces located in abandoned warehouses, storefronts, small gallery spaces, and even living rooms, provides the privacy needed to create, while offering visitors the experience to feel comfortable amongst that which has been created.