Image-Free: On Airport Vision

Image-Free: On Airport Vision


In Mousse Magazine, Issue 64.

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Mousse 64

An uncontroversial truism: airports are a required infrastructure for contemporary art. The international airport, with its elite lounges, expedited security screenings, and frequent flights around the world, ensures the globalism of today’s art world. How else could curators, gallerists, and collectors attend biennials in Brazil and South Korea during the same weekend? Or even transport artworks to be exhibited? The art world strikes parallels with airport architecture, socially and spatially. Consider the hypervisible stratification of class: a VIP fair pass or premier lounge access. Airports and museums are intensified sites of security, integrating guards, agents, cameras, and computers to eliminate risk, whether to prevent artwork from being destroyed or a terrorist attack. Airports also, as it were, exhibit artwork. Public art installations grace the interstices of airport terminals and aesthetically soothe frenetic passengers arriving and departing, such as Michael Hayden’s sprawling light sculpture Sky’s the Limit (1987) at Chicago’s O’Hare International. But airports, like artists, have learned to generate images. They have developed their own plastic means to see, to produce vision.