Fenced In: The Latest Installation Art on Campus

You’ve heard the altered bells, but have you seen the fence outside of Peirce? For one of Professor Claudia Esslinger’s Installation Art assignments, Lana Dubin ’14 created “an experience for some yet not for others.”

Find out more after the jump!

Lana’s handcrafted fence was constructed to resemble the beloved orange fencing found at Old Kenyon lounge parties. Using English methods of rope tying, i.e. finger loop braiding, the fence encloses a group of male volunteers, creating a juxtaposition of gender by inverting the male gaze. The fence enclosure serves to create an exclusive environment, as the volunteers are unable to communicate with those on the outside of the circle.

This installation is not meant to be pleasing on a visual level; rather, it is meant to provoke the viewer to contemplate the concepts of exclusivity and gender. Be sure to take a look at Lana’s installation on your way to Peirce or class — it will only be up for two more days. See it on Thursday from 12:50-1:10 p.m. and Friday from 11:50 a.m. -12:10 p.m.

94 responses

  1. Kenyon has gone totally nuts. Can I honestly ,as an alum,give money to THIS stuff? Allan Bloom was probably correct,if you want a real education, stay away from modern US colleges.

    • Geez, it’s an assignment for one class. I think it’s pretty cool that they can share their artwork with the rest of the campus.

      • Completely agree.
        These kids want to push the “boundaries” of art, but what do we call art now?
        Can a normal person pick up grass and call it art?

        Many of these installation pieces are complete crap compared to previous years. Our standards are completely gone.
        What are the professors doing?

      • Just because it’s art doesn’t mean it’s particularly good art. Then again, that does sound like an opinion….

      • Rustler- I’d like to see you weave a fence out of surveyors tape and find six willing college-aged men each day for a week to participate in an installation requiring a level of performance and gendered nuances. And to answer your question, yes, if the grass is picked in a particularly alluring way and the “normal” person does the act with an artistic intention, than that person can call it art.
        I did not, as anonymous suggests, “toss random crap together, call it art, discuss how this “art” reflects male sexism” as my installation required intensive planning and the skilled manipulation of experimental materials. I find it intriguing that you immediately assume the work is about sexism and wonder what in my piece leads you to that unexpected conclusion. I chose exclusively male volunteers in order to create a visibly homogenous environment emphasizing the fence defined space.
        I appreciate the critiques, although none of them offer insightful suggestions and display an ignorance of contemporary art and current art world trends (not modern art, that was a movement that ended in the 70s). However, I reiterate Hoyt’s sentiments and thank all of you for creating such a spirited dialogue about my art! Your sheer desire to comment enforces the success of the work.

      • Dear Ms. Dubin

        I appreciate many types of art; this is not one of them.

        I know different ways to tie rope; it’s not that hard. I bet I can use these skills to tie the tape, and finding participants is an even easier task.
        What is this “performance” you speak about?
        When did visual art become a performing art?

        Because any untrained normal person can create art, I conclude this:
        1. We don’t need a college education for art, so why are you here?
        2. Art training is not needed; why do artists even try?

        Gender nuance my ass. Wtf are you talking about?
        And what does “I chose exclusively male volunteers in order to create a visibly homogenous environment emphasizing the fence defined space” You blab and make no sense.

        Just because people talk about your art does not mean it’s successful. If we use this criteria for successful art, all art becomes successful art. We are also not talking about just your art; we are focusing on all of the installations. Stop being conceited.

        Btw: jimmies have been rustled

      • Oh no~ I just read your comment!!!
        This isn’t about being able to read.
        Isn’t it the artist/writers responsibility to make sure the audience/readers understand?
        If nobody understands, well, it sucks.

      • um, no. It’s called audience interpretation, and quite a few people, “get” this piece. It seems to me that you’re upset your tiny brain can’t process complex visual analysis, which is fine. That’s why you’re a science major.

      • Please tell me what this piece is about.
        Please give me as much detail; maybe that’ll help my tiny brain process this stuff.

        Never said I was a science major btw.

    • I AGREE. Why would any parent pay upwards of 50,000 dollars a year for their kids to create art that is admittedly not visually pleasing and consists of five dudes inside a tiny orange fence thing? That’s not really an important life skill to learn. I think installation art is pointless…it involves creativity but none of the actual technical skill involved in actually PAINTING or SCULPTING something. Great, you know how to put different things in places so that they look cool. Me too. Doesn’t make me an artist.

    • I think it’s a bit too obvious… what does someone do with a bunch of like sized branches? Why make a tepee of course! The addition of twine didn’t do much for me. Though it does appear to have quite a bit of work put into making it the way it looks standing near Olin now, in my mind it doesn’t make up for it’s less than stellar appeal. Attractive to a point, but on the whole unimpressive. I would have liked a more interesting interpretation of a tepee, but that’s me.

  2. When does the for-credit class on basketweaving begin, or the priceless economics class: Prostitution as an example of an elastic economy?

  3. Isn’t the point of art to make people think? And isn’t the fact that this post has already generated 10+ comments proof that Dubin’s installation has done that? QED, isn’t this art?

  4. wow this is just idiotic. An example of so many things that are wrong with Kenyon, and many other liberal arts colleges : toss random crap together, call it art, discuss how this “art” reflects male sexism


    THIS ART IS GETTING SOME ATTENTION excusee meee. And Lana, for you info, has sewed balls onto stuffed animals. So yeah she’s a boss

  6. You people don’t even know Lana Dubin and her talents. If you’re not in the class, have never met the professor, and haven’t read the guidelines for the assignment, then you should shut up, nod your head, and appreciate the temporary changes to Kenyon Campus (they don’t happen often!)

  7. I’m an angry alumnus. I wish everything was the way it used to be at Kenyon. Like the good ‘ol days. When the woman students had a curfew and students created REAL art, you know, replications of the old masters. White western men dominated arts for the past couple centuries, they must be good.

    I will dismiss any attempts to expand conversation or world views. The younger generation are just lazy little whipper snappers, and I will crush their attempts at thinking past the box I will continue to reinforce with my comments on their blog. And by the way, who’s idea was this blog? What’s wrong with the collegian? Makes me a little uneasy. As all change does.

    But seriously, friends, I think it’s great that Ms. Dubin’s work is promoting discussion about art, art theory, gender and Kenyon culture–but do we really also need a take down of Kenyon’s academic legitimacy and the motives of the said students. Also, I know that not everyone making negative comments is an alumnus, but could you at least not leave them anonymously? You should at least treat your classmate with respect. What a cheap thrill (no pun intended).

    I am writing this in Scotland (on my junior year vacation! Why would anyone leave Kenyon and gain different perspectives and experiences! They might bring *shudder* outside ideas!), so I can’t really discuss the merits of this piece artistically as I am not experiencing it. Judging an installation piece by photo isn’t really fair. It’s more than the visual, it’s the experience. How is the environment changed? How does the piece change over time?

    Is it valid to not like Ms. Dubin’s work? Of course. I’m not a fan of El Greco. Everyone looks kind of ghastly and zombie like to me. However, I also acknowledge that I have not seen every work of El Greco, and I do not assume that because I do not like El Greco, he is not an artist and his work is not art. Similarly, I think Damien Hirsts’ stuff is really silly, but I wouldn’t tell an artist to stop doing what they’re doing: even if I think it’s silly or gimmicky. We need people to push limits: in art, in politics, in education and in thought. When Dante wrote The Divine Comedy in Italian, instead of Latin, it was unheard of. Van Goh never enjoyed success in his life time. etc.

    So those who have reacted with dismissive comments, thank you for the reminder that our work is not yet done. There are still boundaries to push and conversations that need to be had. Not for the sake of pushing boundaries, but to further critical thinking (as all good liberal arts colleges do), as to what exactly is making people feel uncomfortable, and why. Why is it so offensive when someone offers a shift in the prevailing narrative?

    More often than not, the answer does not simply lie in taste about art, but in the critic’s conception of the world and the position they hold in it.

    Isn’t it fun when art makes you think?

    • Isn’t the point of art to have others appreciate it?
      Do you plan to beg for coins on the streets while creating art that nobody will appreciate nor buy?

      Science can be good or bad. Books can be good or bad. Performing art can be good or bad. But contemporary art is always good?

      And you’re a tough one. Calling people cowards all the way from Scotland. This is just as bad as being anonymous. Be on campus and say this crap. Doubt you would have this discussion in person.

  8. Although I do not possess the knowledge or experience to properly critique this piece, it seems thoughtful and interesting to me. Lana Dubin clearly put in a lot of hard work for this installation. If you’re going to criticize, be constructive. Otherwise, keep your mouth shut.

  9. This is a very interesting piece of art, for sure. The stunning orange definitely caught my attention when I first saw it. What I do wonder is why the fence is held up with posts around the side…Would it be different if the men were actually using their bodies to hold it up? It would almost be as if they are straining to get out, but can’t. Anyways, that’s my little ideas. I’m glad Lana Dubin created an innovative piece. Now all we need is a plaque like those on museum walls that explains a bit about the thought process.

    • I believe art should be able to stand on it’s own. Not that this piece is terribly unclear, but without that plaque, without that bit of information, it seems the purpose of the piece can be easily muddled, like it was in this post.
      Unless one of the purposes of the piece was to muddle, in which case: success!

    • Thank you LB for an actual critique! I originally wanted to use orange fiberglass plow stakes so the material would be entirely industrial (and the same color) but couldn’t find them in the middle of September. Your suggestion is great but would alter the nature of the created space and imbue the piece with symbols of resistance and struggle. I wanted to be able to define the space around the participants rather than having them create the space for themselves. Maybe in its next life I’ll make my volunteers do the work hehe

  10. making poorly informed and thoughtless petty comments on the internet is easy; conceptualizing and executing art is difficult. studio art is possibly the most time-consuming major at kenyon. take a fucking art class and stop commenting anonymously. you might learn learn something and you’ll look like less of a douche.

    ps – if so many people are reacting so strongly to these projects that no one is forcing them in any way to interact with (minus the bells, sry guyz), they are obviously having a fairly strong impact.

    • ya ya ya….
      you think studio art is time-consuming?
      Be a science major. It’s very hard and time-consuming.
      I’ve taken an art class before.

      What’s your full name?
      What year are you?
      Where do you live?

      You’re pretty anonymous to me.

      • sorry for being so vague, there are, like, A LOT of people named edith on this campus. my name is edith willey. i’m a senior. i live in NCA 5B and if you ever want to have a conversation about art (or science), feel free to stop by.

      • Mr. Rustler,
        As a fellow anonymous commenter, I really don’t think you and I have any standing to comment on the anonymity of other people. If you’re going to continue to criticize people for keeping their identities private, please reveal yours first.

      • Dear Anonymous and the angry mob,

        I am not the first one to criticize anonymity.
        I LOVE being anonymous.
        Please read the above comments before jumping to a conclusion and making an ass out of yourself.

    • Thanks for that joke, it really brightened my day. I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous. I’m a class away from being an art minor, and yeah, real art takes some time to make properly. There is no undo button for the paintbrush or the chisel, so things must be meticulously done. But comparing it the hard sciences or even the social sciences is laughable. If you factor in the difficulty level it’s even worse. There are toddlers who sell their finger paintings for thousands of dollars. Don’t get me wrong I’m sure they took their time with them, but hopefully, when they get to college, they will choose something that actually will make a difference in the world. Cause they are already more successful than any of these artists here now.

      • i hope you are not so sad of a person that you actually think art doesn’t make a difference in the world.


        incidentally, one of the videos in this series features vs ramachandran, who just spoke at kenyon on monday. he’s a scientist and he thinks art is pretty fucking cool.

      • I said nothing of the sort; I said no “art” that these people who are competing, and losing against toddlers will matter. On the other hand though, (while I respect the history of art and plenty of art up until the twentieth century) if we call the crap that these people are doing art I have serious doubts as to any contemporary art mattering. In fact calling almost anything modern artists do art, is an insult to the masters, to the classic age artisans, and to the cave painters.

      • I agree with anonymous.
        Not everything can be considered art.

        And he/she never claimed that “art doesn’t make a difference in the world”.
        Stop putting words into people’s mouth.

      • We are student artists experimenting with different media for a class. None of us are claiming to be masters or anything of the sort; in fact, I’m not very happy with my own project and I think it could have been conceptualized AND executed much better. However, senselessly tearing down students’ artwork that is not negatively effecting you in any way (while hiding behind anonymous blog comments, aka “the worst thing the Internet has ever done to humanity”, no less) is unproductive and cowardly. I don’t really understand the general passionate hatred towards these art projects, and it bums me out that so many Kenyon students are being so petty and disrespectful. You don’t have to love every piece of art that you come across, but there are constructive and unconstructive ways to critique them, and it’s pretty sad that people are choosing to be so destructive. Also, technically beautiful and meticulously crafted painting and other forms of art still exist in the contemporary art world. The art world is so vast and varied at this point that I’m sure if you did a little research you could find something you liked.

        In reference to your claim that we are a disgrace to the art world or whatever (seriously? Are you actually THAT offended by our pieces?), every attempt is not a success and art (as well as people) would never change or grow if we didn’t try and fail at some shit. Hopefully in the future we can do so in a less hostile environment, but whatevs. Before you write Kenyon art students off completely, come to our open studio at the end of the semester and tell us what you think. You can stop by my studio anytime, in fact. It’s on the third floor of the art building (I think it’s studio 5?).

        (ps – sry/not sry for any typos, my computer just broke so I’m typing on my phone and it’s annoyingly difficult)

      • “when they get to college, they will choose something that actually will make a difference in the world” I think Rustler’s illiterate because that quote clearly claims that art doesn’t make a difference in the world

      • Anything taken out of context can be read differently.

        Anonymous states that if toddlers are able to make money from their art, it’s not worth getting an art degree. Especially if it’s from an institution that has such low standards for art.

        Please reread the whole comment before telling me I’m illiterate.
        Not sure how you got in to an English heavy school like Kenyon.
        HERP DERP

  11. Just because people talk about something does not legitimize it / make it good. 50 Shades of Grey created quite the stir – does that mean it is high-quality literature? (I bet most of you would scoff and say it hardly qualifies as literature at all.)

    Try to understand why your work is being poorly received. It is not that you have gone so far artistically that you have just blown our poor, ignorant, phillistine minds; it’s that you have not gone far enough. It’s not that your work’s meaning is too deep for its audience; it’s that it’s shallow, pretending too hard to have depth. This work is just more of the same as far as modern art is concerned (modern art as in contemporary art, not the movement, for chrissakes).

    My humble suggestion to you is that you go back to the drawing board for awhile and create something just for the sake of creating it, just for yourself, rather than attempting to make muddled social commentary (that I’m fairly sure not even you quite understand). Maybe then you’ll find what your “artistic intention” is. Maybe then it will be more genuine, and people will actually connect to it, rather than react with revulsion.

  12. If anyone wants to critique my PERFORMANCE BASED INSTALLATION they should actually come experience it for themselves tomorrow, Friday at 12:00 PM in front of Peirce.

      • I must ask, Rustler, why do you keep saying that? Two people have already revealed who they are, in addition to the author of the very art installation. So I would say it is probably your turn now.

      • Naw, I never wanted them to reveal their personal info.
        I only made a comment about how people call each other cowards for hiding behind the internet. Was pointing out hypocrisy that’s all.

      • Read all of my comments, not just this short section.

        Edith and 2 others claimed being anonymous was a cowardly tactic.
        My response was as follows:

        What’s your full name?
        What year are you?
        Where do you live?
        You’re pretty anonymous to me.

        This doesn’t make me a hypocrite. Calling others cowards (for being anonymous) while remaining anonymous is pretty low.

        Who feels dumb now?

    • Sorry, I’m not buying the ideas of a man who thinks moldy canvas is the epitome of art. Unless the point of contemporary art is that it’s just all bullshit…..well, it’s just all bullshit. It’s eliminated skill from art. I guess what they say is true: the best artists go into marketing, and the art world is left with the dregs of art school.

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    • Adding links /does/ in fact legitimize a claim. That is, if the links are good sources with relevant information. If they’re youtube videos of cats, they probably don’t add to an argument, however, if the information in the link is valid and pertains to a discussion, it does “legitimize a claim.” It’s interesting that you wouldn’t know that considering how proud you seem to be of the school’s english program.

      • “if the links are good sources with relevant information”
        I agree with that, but it’s hard to figure out what’s a good source especially for something like contemporary art.

        Never said I was proud of the English program; words in my mouth again.

  14. I am wondering why everyone has spent so much time bitching about an art installation. Also, I do not understand why there are so many hateful comments about Lana’s artwork. There is no need for everyone to come to a consensus about what “art” means or should mean. What is art to one person may be viewed differently by someone else. For instance, I recently went to an art gallery here in Edinburgh with some friends, and my friends were pointing out things in the paintings that I did not see and would never see. This is because we each have individual ideas of what art means for each of us. Yet, I did not insult my friends for thinking some of these paintings were beautiful when I saw nothing but people and/or nature and every once and a while, a nice use of lighting and colors. Rustler, I sometimes feel the same way you do about art. Believe it or not, I sometimes feel this way about installation art at Kenyon. Yet, I have the ability to hold my tongue when I remember that, although I have my opinions about what art is or should be, that same piece of art that annoys the hell out of me might mean the world to someone else. And when I really do feel annoyed or angered by something and feel the need to speak or write about how I feel, I have the ability to attach my name to my comments. Feel free to rant about how much installation art sucks, but remember: it matters to someone.

  15. “art isn’t easy” – Stephen Sondheim
    Lana, congratulations on creating a successful installation. You should be proud of it, along with the resulting flame war.
    We should all be inspired to go to a school where different forms of contemporary art such as outdoor installation are embraced by students and professors. The students in this class have created works that have certainly made me re-assess the environment around me. Good job, all!

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