“It’s been an ebb and flow, obviously…but something did happen in the early 2000s where art started to become more interesting as a social experience,” Trotman said. “I think that had to do with consumerism and economic trends, but also with technology, smartphones, and our filtered experience of the world through social media. That led to a greater interest in ephemeral, live experiences of art through performance.”
The Guggenheim’s Turrell show, which attracted more daily visitors than any other exhibition in New York that year, fell near the end of what Trotman described as the peak of institutional experiential art programming, which he placed between roughly 2005 and 2015. It wasn’t that interactive exhibits weren’t attractive to the public after the midway point of the 2010s, though—they had just filtered down into the popular consciousness, becoming less of a spectacle and more of commonplace programming.
“It became something that infiltrated many different aspects of the art world and artmaking,” Trotman said. “There’s not as many widespread moments of, say, a
show, or the way that James Turrell took over the rotunda of the Guggenheim. Something at that scale is less prominent, but you see many more smaller, more nimble ephemeral experiences that are popping up in lots of different places.”