Robyn Backen: Backspace
B A C K S P A C E
This book examines two decades of work by the Australian artist Robyn Backen. Her practice ranges from small- and large-scale installations through to site-specific public works. Most of these works are temporary. Only a very small number are permanent, or semi-permanent–that is, created for a specific life span.
This inbuilt mortality that characterises most of Backen’s work is not something that can be redressed or undone; it is deliberate. Like many artists in Australia in the 1990s who were attracted to the methods and meanings of installation art, Backen’s intention was (and remains) to create ephemeral works. This presents many challenges for understanding her work as a whole. Indeed, writing the history of installation art in Australia raises many of the same questions that have already been posed and debated in relation to performance art, such as: Can you study performance art if you didn’t actually see it yourself? What kind of history can be written on the basis of documentation? And so forth.