Last week I was in Bilbao Spain and had the chance to visit the Guggenheim museum. I love the Guggenheim – there are some pieces I find really interesting and others I don’t get, but the place always gives me ideas and makes me think. As I walked around, the security guards were in a terrible mood. The reason? It seemed that there was a group of tourists that kept touching the pieces of art, which, if you look at the signs, they are of course not allowed to do.
The problem is I wanted to touch the art too. There are quite a few pieces that look like they are meant to be touched. We aren’t talking Van Gogh paintings on the wall. These are textured sculptures. One room is covered in light bulbs, another has what looks like a re-creation of a roman road. We experience the world around us through our senses, the more senses we can use the more connected we become with an object. In that sense, modern art galleries want us to connect with the art, but not completely. They want us to hear, smell, look … but not touch.
This had me thinking, as I often do, about sustainability. There are a lot of issues, a lot of problems, like climate change that are happening all over the world. We ask people to care but it is hard to really get engaged, to really understand if you can’t use your senses. We need to see it, to feel it, smell it, taste it. If it isn’t really affecting you in some way, it is more difficult to connect. So how do we do that?