crit notes from 3/6/2013
Metamorphosis. Its not about something stationary or completed or being but becoming. Everything is in a process of making or unmaking/unraveling. Even something that is unraveling is still becoming. A process of transition. There is no stasis. Formlessness. The unform – French historical art movement. Idea of labor—video: magic of unraveling – Still thinking about how it was made and all the time it took to make it and what is that time spent about? What does that mean to me? Its coming together and becoming undone. So much about the making, the making is the subject. Its biological also, transformation, growth, becoming, Marx only wrote his philosophy after reading Darwin. Time-based evolution and the evolution of labor and the ontology of objects in relation to duration and time and development, accumulation. Like a spider.
In knitting, Each knot is dependent on all the other knot, so when you let one go, it all falls apart. In the same way in the sculpture a little more abstractly, each fragment is dependent on the others. Similar to architecture, brick by brick.
Donna Haraway, ‘When Species Meet’. Particle relationships and contingency, something exists in relation to something else existing, development and growth are concepts that only exist in contingent relation to other parts. Feminist, 70’s, making and sewing and womens work, craft, whirring. Worlding, the inter-connectedness of things. Maps and roads and suturing things together and making connections. The ones that have no form are more compelling than the ones that exist in relation to a body or a pattern. The abstract ones allow you to wonder what the material is. Creating a landscape so already is grounded in the figural or representational. The specific of the body art, the jackets and sleeve, it makes it more about just dressmaking. And with the sewing those issues are already brought up. The muslin is used for draping, it folds like paper, for mock-ups.
Cartography and road-making, the way the world is understood as a 2 dimensional crust, it’s a 3 dimensional thing and then molding the crust again. Making a flat map out of a round globe, there is distortion that happens. Similar thing with making flat fabric becoming a 3 dimensional form. Flattening a jacket looks strange.
Meditation, work is meditation. Video puts people into a trance. You feel the labor but you are wrapped up in this experience of imagining the labor, the repetition, there is no climax to this story. There is no ark to this drama, you know whats going to happen. Similar to the sculpture, like its just there, naturally projecting into our space. It doesn’t feel aggressive even though it’s a large unwieldy object. It’s a curious feeling to be in the same place with these things. About time, and how time is spent and articulated, time made visible. Its not amounting to an object, its not becoming something that you can understand, it never arrives at this is what this is. It accumulates, it could go on and on, theres a sense that this is not the finished thing, but even if it was or wasn’t, that doesn’t really matter because we’re seeing a fragment of a whole that we could imagine. About this idea of how one spends time, and makes you think about the time I spent doing it, it doesn’t end anywhere. When I’m making things, I often feel like I need a job, a task to do, in order to feel alive, that my life is worth doing. The repetition is like life affirmation. There never feels to be an end. I often don’t know when I’m done. Maybe this was the issue with the body of work I showed last time—I didn’t know if I was done and that was fine with me. It was almost like I was making materials to make into something else later.
There is something successful about the map being hidden. Where the map is covered up, you can’t tell what information was used to make it, or how I used that information. It being obscured leaves more to think about. You think more about the act of making it. or how the video doesn’t follow an expected left-to-right progression, it becomes interesting. The way it comes together and falls apart has a randomness to it.
About process, but its not without some sort of imagery. About life, biological, cell growth, but it leaves a disturbing question, what is it all for? Not just what is this artwork for, but a more rhetorical question: why make new cells? It doesn’t resolve that question. It takes you to an existential question, why reproduce at all? Why do the things you do every day? Its all habitual. You are left with that question: Am I condemned to repeat? Sisyphus, or the Penelope in the Odyssey, the Greeks, the Underworld where everyone lives, Tartarus is the Hell like place in the underworld where people are condemned to repeat activities. Trying to drink water but it all dries up every time. The Greeks imagined repetitive activities as a punishment. Pure reproduction that can’t be cultivated to any fruition is the worst form of existence. This work takes you to those existential questions. Video becomes drawing, as does the sculpture, the places where I enacted labor with sewing becomes line. How things are made, figuring out making, instructional. Sesame street interludes, how things are made. I want to reveal process so much, to the extent of becoming a lesson, but then hope that it doesn’t end up looking like that. The sesame street interludes were very abstract out of concrete things. Terry Ross’s videos make fantastical interactions with objects.
The way I bring abstraction into our reality through the making, but we are confronted with an abstraction. Its quiet the way it happens. Asking us to make a place for it in an ordinary way, but we are left with an abstract thing, and address the idea of abstraction; it goes off into another territory where we are trying to recon with these things that are in front of us that we are confronted with. Its useful that they are in two different forms (sculpture and video) because with video you can get locked into this time-based form to deal with the element of time, when really the sculpture is just as time sensitive. I am reinforcing one with the other. To give a time-based feeling to the sculptural work is to continue to make material videos. Meditating—there is a point where you question whether the unraveling is part of construction. The loops being made is creation/ construction and the loops being unraveled is destruction, but never convinced if that’s the way to read it – its unraveling is the construction of the thing. The unmaking is making.
Depth that’s created with the shadow in the video is good, gives depth to a flat space, it gives it form and mass. William Kentridge. Tara Donavan because of accumulation and it looks like biology, and labor.
Smaller sculptures: using recognizable forms vs. using unrecognizable forms. And how it functions on a smaller scale. One is two hoods attached, another 2 jacket halves, Interesting things happen when you force things together that don’t want to go together. The hood piece is nice in contrast with the larger more environmental piece that is falling onto the floor, the other one is sculpture is hanging on the wall, when you look at it you get in close and wonder what you are looking for. With the large piece you aren’t allowed to study it in the same way. The expectations are almost opposite. The large one is too much to take in, it’s a sculpture, but also jutting into the space as installation. Its something you can see as a shape, its not an environment. Its an interesting territory in terms of scale and how immersive it is or not.
Skin-like, tumors, grotesque underbelly feels a little heavy handed. Evoke horror. Frankenstein’s monsters. The more interesting thing is the destruction of the things and pattern, which are more open than the grotesque thing. We know what to expect from horror. I’d rather have something appear on the side of grotesque than on the side of sweet and cute. I’m fighting on the polarities between pretty and ugly. Going for spooky/cozy. Skin-like but also strange, and not in a bad way. This is something that you can’t get a handle on, there is a lot to take in, its full of details. The scale is odd, you cant see the whole thing at the same time.
Even if something looks grotesque or horrific—there’s something that is going to be grotesque with sewing because of stitches and surgery, the horror genre was pioneered by women and it was very metaphysically deep – Mary Shelly was the daughter of intellectuals, her mother was a pioneer feminist and her father was a political free love activist. It was thru writing about the monsters that she came to think about inter-textuality and social being. Now these romantic metaphors are so figurative that people shy away from them because they are bad taste or something, suturing, the act of enjoying things that don’t belong, which is what Frankenstein’s monster was about too. It doesn’t end at being grotesque. It can have something fruitful if you know where to look for it. Hysteria—women and origin of horror, overflow of feeling/frustration, not able to have orgasms, vibrator was invented to cure it. Women’s subjectivities and frustrations. Orgasm is a repetitive action leading up to a release, like the unwinding. It is satisfying to watch the building up—compulsion to watch. The money shot is when it is either all unraveled or complete. Creates an equilibrium.
I’m irreverent with them, I spill things on them, I step on them, etc. Franz West. They still seem precious and elegant.
Video and sculpture relate to each other, in the scale, they are both coming off of the wall. The amorphous shapes. Crazy mad stitching process, where you start is a question. Process of unraveling to the bare minimum. Both don’t have a beginning and an end. Tidal. The sculpture functions in the same way as the video, even though its an object. Video relates to the wall the way the sculptures relates to the wall. They are having a conversation with each other, and they are helping each other, they complete each other in a unpredicted way. Nancy Rubins’s sculptures. Graphic drawings scrubs the same piece of paper until they look like metal and forms them in the space, Massive sculptural piece of objects accumulating. Airplanes, industrial things, canoes, tying things together, too much to comprehend, overwhelming, about a spectacular use of scale, seems weightless because its abstraction. Abstraction lets you lose a sense of material, and becomes destabilized. Experiencing the object, repetitive actions.