The flickering fluorescent lights, the loud clang of unit doors shuttering, the peace of mind that accompanies having unwanted furniture and family memorabilia safely locked away in a neat, sterile package — isn't personal storage just so artsy?
Scoff all you like, but think again: A group of eight Houston artists and art collectives will transform eight of those mod-looking PODS units as part of the American Association of Museums 2011 Annual Meeting and MuseumExpo. Exhibiting at Discovery Green May 18 through June 5, the Portable on Demand Arts (PODA) project will subsequently travel to a series of locations in the Houston metropolitan area.
PODA is a manifestation of the AAM conference's intention to engage the public, an initiative spearheaded by the late Museum of Fine Arts, Houston director Peter Marzio. The PODS collaboration may seem like a product placement non sequitur, but Jonathon Glus, Houston Arts Alliance president and CEO and co-chair of the AAM Public Arts and Programming Subcommittee, argues that the PODS collaboration speaks to the preeminence of movement and transit in Houston.
"We all move about this city in a very rapid way in our automobiles on a daily basis," he says, "so we really spend a lot of time reflecting on the idea of transit and fluidity in the city."
Artist Anthony Thompson Shumate will make it rain inside his POD as a cascade of lasers is accompanied by alternating sound effects that simulate a rainstorm.
"I'm interested in the experience of it being hot and wet and how that represents the Houston climate," he tells CultureMap. "It's contemplative. Speaking as somebody not originally from Houston, I think rain is such an integral part of living here."
Montrose art collective The Joanna will make their POD into a giant, interactive music box that combines mechanical sound, reflective lights and electronic amplification. In the Box 13-designed unit, artists from the East End collective will create a cabinet of curiosities. Consider their box a time capsule of culturally significant artifacts drawn from Houston's links to history, science, geography, space exploration and medicine.
Also among the represented creatives will be street art collective Aerosol Warfare, which has already begun to envelope their POD unit in vibrant graffiti and stencils. In the unit's interior, used spray paint cans will be amalgamated to create an environment reminiscent of an artist's studio. Visitors can add to the art with an active message board.
Artist Gabriel Martinez will completely deconstruct his POD, rearranging the pieces into benches that emerge from the Discovery Green lawn. Other talents culled to make a POD all their own include fab fabricators Metalab, multidisciplinary artist Lynne McCabe and sculptor Jillian Conrad.