Freespace is an exploration of the relationships built between people and place, may they be urban, suburban or rural. It looks to inhabit the everyday space, the space that once was, and space that is constantly in between. The objective is to develop a network of sites, through partnerships with individuals and communities, to elucidate experiences of ownership, privacy, sustainability, and identity.
This process begins by asking about spaces that have meaning to you – may it be a vibrant moment from your past, a rethinking of a space that is familiar to all, or a curiosity along a walk. The project seeks out these spaces, using the publicâ€™s own intimate experiences. You are then able to donate to the site to Freespace through text and images, eventually being posted to a website that situates the location within a larger global network. By creating an archive of the meanings that connect people to place, relationships are built that reveals memory and challenges identity. Once the collection is defined, each site will become a node in a program to reconnect people with in space. Tours, site visits, and narratives will provide ways for engagement and expanded connections.
The concept for Freespace came while sitting at the summer home of the Vanderbilt Family in Hyde Park, NY, now a part of the National Park System. The space defines a relationship with place that most will never see or experience. The question of how this space represents the United States comes to mind? Even more specifically how does it represent my own experience? Where is the National Park site of the every day person? The ranch home or the suburban neighborhood comes to mind. What about spaces of decay? Empty lots are spattered across post-industrial cities. Going further, might we think of something more intimate, more private? Could a park reside in a memory, consist of a favorite chair, or the space between ones fingers?
Freespace asks the public to seek these spaces, defining them from their own perspective. They may be conceptual, textual, or physical; and range in size from micro to macro. The project looks to engage the range of associations that people have with space, building a collection of unique environments that take on further meaning by the fact that they are described, located and catalogued. In the end what will be defined is a breadth of perspective that shows the vitality of peoples relationship with what is around them.
Matthew Slaats is an artist based in Poughkeepsie, NY