Have you ever come across an artwork – an abstract painting, perhaps, or a contemporary dance – and wondered what the artist wanted to say with it? Sometimes in trying to understand art, we become obsessed with decoding the message behind a piece – but the truth is, there isn’t necessarily an explanation. When it comes to art, there is never one right answer; every interpretation is as valid as another. So the real question is: what does art mean to you?
At ArtisTree, you are encouraged to discover the answer to this question by yourself. Through innovative programmes, you will be inspired to jump outside the box and savour art in a new way – oftentimes literally. Last summer’s Open Rehearsal Series, for instance, provided a chance for the audience to become a part of a show’s production process. Over a delicious lunch box, these sessions not only made the arts more approachable, but also offered the audience a rare opportunity to view dance and theatre performances from a different perspective. The stunning Beyond Fashion exhibition followed, kick-starting 2019 with iconic fashion images that sparked conversation among viewers, as well as a unique culinary experience that blurred the line between food and art.
Most recently, ArtisTree has taken the shape of a maze where French street artist L’Atlas and Austrian artist Willi Dorner invite the audience to explore their Urban Playgrounds. “It’s a discussion between three things: human beings, city and art,” says L’Atlas, who designed the labyrinthine space. “Here people can play with the structure; it’s not something that you can’t touch. It’s real like the city and I think it’s a good idea to make people cross the frontier between them and art. But it’s not my responsibility to say what you have to feel. I just share my vision with you, and then it’s not my art anymore; it’s your art.”
Combining elements such as photos, performances and canapés and drinks served right inside the maze, Urban Playgrounds creates an engaging experience that challenges visitors to reexamine the relationship between art, urban landscapes and themselves. “I hope that I can trigger a thinking process in the way they use our built environment,” says Dorner, the mastermind behind the live performances where artists mimic sculptures in and around ArtisTree. “To me, art is a confrontation. When I see an artwork, it confronts me and triggers a reflection process in me. So I hope to evoke different emotions and feelings in people too.”
While art has the power to inspire conversations with ourselves, sometimes it also encourages dialogue in the community. “What happens is that people would walk in groups, and they would share their thoughts as they go along and see my human sculptures,” Dorner says. “This is the social aspect of the work, and for me, it’s very important.”
Whether you prefer to keep your thoughts to yourself or share with others, it’s entirely up to you. At the end of the day art is a very personal experience – you may get lost in the process, but as L’Atlas puts it: “You have to look inside yourself and ask yourself which way you’re taking – not only the way in the city but also in life. And when you get lost, you can find yourself.”
27 March-12 April
Registration now open; see the programme page for details.