Relative Stranger

Relative Stranger

Relative Stranger, 2008

Madelin Coit
Courtesy of the artist and Salon Mar Graff

Eye-catching neon is typically associated with commercial advertisements. They will often announce the entrance to a site, declare a store open for business, or seduce the public to buy a particular brand of beer or cigarette. Yet a number of contemporary artists have used neon as a basis for their artistic practice. A neon sign within the walls of a museum pits an emblem of marketing against an institution that positions itself as above the fray of commercial interests. In the case of Madelin Coit’s Relative Strangers, the phrase refers to the lobby as a gathering place of strangers coming together for a common purpose (hence their status as strangers is only relative). At the same time, it questions how much we really know our own kin, and whether our relatives are as much strangers to us as those we encounter in a public space such as a lobby.

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