Fall 2009

Type A: Barriers: Protecting or Prohibiting?

By Caroline Wurtzel

Type A: Barrier, created by Adam Ames and Andrew Bordwin was recently installed in the Tang museum. Upon confronting this installation, one might wonder why construction site barriers are arranged in two perfect circles inside the museum. Each circle is composed of six barriers, each at a 60-degree angle. These barriers are nothing different than Jersey barriers you would while driving on the highway, or severely barring off a work site. Why, then, are they in the Tang?

Mounted on the wall adjacent to the barriers is a print entitled, Barrier (Proposal to Protect). Thisprint is a simple outline of an organic shape created by these 60-degree angled pieces of concrete. The print is taken from a larger plan to protect different sites by surrounding them with these barriers. The artists explore the concept of protecting everything from schools and government institutions to our very own homes and personal property. The combination of the conceptual plan, and the limited physical space in this installation is quite dramatic.

One might nd oneself sliding across an edge of the barriers and tip-toeing across the other. In fact, you are able to climb on the barriers and be inside the circles formed by the concrete. Are the barriers an inconvenience? A necessity? The concept of protecting everything, even our family with something so concrete, bold, and bland is an intimidating one. The concept got me thinking, personally, shouldn’t we protect our loved ones with something softer? Do we need something so obviously tangible? Is our own personal protection not enough? Do we distance others, institutions like school and government by putting up such an obvious wall between them and us? By being able to interact physically with these barriers, are we protecting ourselves when we enter the circle or are we trapping ourselves? If it is difcult to exit the circles created by the barriers, then are they protecting or suffocating?

These twelve barriers may not hold the answers to all of these questions, but do certainly cause a viewer to think and develop their own ideas, understanding, of how we protect our own lives and those of our loved ones. The barriers, so simple in view represent so much more in concept. Type A: Barrier is a successful installation in making us reconsider the idea of protection in every form in our lives.