Peter Shelton
EVENT: STRETCHspread at the Henry Art Gallery.

How many times have you installed STRETCHspread? "It's only been shown once. It was a commission for a museum the Lannan Foundation had in Lake Worth, Florida. We put it up in 1987, and it was shown there for a couple of years. They closed the museum and it's been in storage since."

How does the work change for you when you install it in a different space? "In Lake Worth, the museum was an old movie theater that had a conventional layout--very high ceilings for the theater proper, but then you came in underneath a mezzanine. And what the architect had put in were two pedestals--at first I wasn't so big on the idea of working on a pedestal. I spent most of my career trying to figure out ways to avoid pedestals, by hanging stuff, floating stuff off the walls. Then I started thinking about using one pedestal in a very conventional way and launching something off of it, rather than a very self-contained object that behaved itself and stayed in that objective realm--you view a pedestal almost like a proscenium or a stage where things are self-contained. I thought that one kind of challenge to the pedestal would be that the [work] launches off the pedestal and you walk in under the mezzanine and see this figure that's reasonable enough, then you walk out into the main space and realize that the figure stretches all the way up into a skylight that happens to be above it. It played with your expectation of how the pedestal should have kept the thing contained. And then the other pedestal I ignored completely. I just hung over it this array or vascular system, this kind of plumbing thing that hung from the ceiling and didn't touch the pedestal at all. It kind of... nebulated over it? Is there such a word? Well, there is now."

How is the Henry's space? "This one has a nice scale--it's not too big. And the fact that the piece just fits--at least, the stretch part being only three inches from the ceiling makes a strange kind of rubbery connection from the ceiling to the floor. There's always a kind of phenomenal side to sculpture--you walk around it in space and it's temporal and you might experience it high or low."

Support The Stranger