I read this ranging interview with artist Ai Weiwei and smiled a lot. He’s really just concerned with doing his next thing, not how standing in the art world, or celebrity, or much beyond tweaking some foibles and defying expectations. Worth a read, fellow would-be dissidents.
Have a Look at Matt Magee’s Deep, Symbolic Breakdowns
I’ve kept an eye open for Matt Magee‘s work, because we’re exploring some similar territory. Breaking down the elements of thought and image are sometimes meticulous to an obsessive level. But they’re always appealing.
The photo above is typical of German artist Konrads’ site-specific installations. They’re often transformations of space and concept, with everyday objects either flying apart in pieces or forming a new doorway into their surroundings. She remakes the environment around her pieces by alternately sinking objects into it and pulling them out of it.
It’s really amazing work that takes the most mundane materials and creates magical planes dividing reality. h/t #womensArt (@womensart1 on Twitter)
The Galaxy Within and Beyond Ourselves, Linked Together
Artist Rotraut Klein-Moquay explains how, among other wonderful connections and perspectives, we need to view our lives as part of the greater universe, and as large, as grand, and as long-lived as it is. Also that we should be careful about living a “good life,” meaning fully-realized.
The Weird and Haunting Final Duchamp Sculpture Is Seasonally Appropriate
I’m sharing this because it’s one of the few artworks I find actually scary. Incredible and fascinating, but also scary. It’s not a sudden, frightening type, but a deeper, more primal kind.
We look through a tiny hole and are confronted with a prone, naked body, only partially seen and still, in the sticks and brush. It might be catching an intimate moment, or it might be something grisly.
Marcel Duchamp spent more than 20 years working on Étant donnésin secret. His hidden dedication is one of the components of the work.
Something else—I’m ever so salty when I see a piece I like a lot and want to know more about its making, but I usually see simply “mixed media” in the medium area of the title card with no elaboration. What did you use? Gorilla bones? Model airplane parts? Camel spit?? It’s so often frustrating. Duchamp made sure we know damn well what went into his last creation:
Mixed media assemblage: (exterior) wooden door, iron nails, bricks, and stucco; (interior) bricks, velvet, wood, parchment over an armature of lead, steel, brass, synthetic putties and adhesives, aluminum sheet, welded steel-wire screen, and wood; Peg-Board, hair, oil paint, plastic, steel binder clips, plastic clothespins, twigs, leaves, glass, plywood, brass piano hinge, nails, screws, cotton, collotype prints, acrylic varnish, chalk, graphite, paper, cardboard, tape, pen ink, electric light fixtures, gas lamp (Bec Auer type), foam rubber, cork, electric motor, cookie tin, and linoleum
Perhaps We Should Be Less Precious About Our Works
Ai Weiwei posted this video on his Instagram account this past week. It seems to show a man on his cell phone obliviously walking into Weiwei’s installation of porcelain sunflower seeds on a museum floor.
As with most of his posts, there is no comment from Ai about it. Reaction from fans and followers are almost universally horror struck. A few are cynical about it being staged. Is it faked? Maybe. I’m not sure it matters that much.
We spend a lot of time making things. We spend much less time thinking about their ephemerality. That should be part of how we consider the things of the world. Nothing is forever. If we embrace the impermanence of it all, I think we might be able to laugh at the absurdity of things like our bestowing some kind of sacred status on finished work.
This incident with the Weiwei piece, or even actively destructive things elsewhere, are some kind of connection with that existential absurdity. I feel like that’s a bigger statement than we can make on our own. Maybe we’d have more fun and make better things afterward by emphasizing the intangible meaning of this, rather than the perfection of craft or the object.
We’re Surrounded by Design, but Art Can Be Hard to Come By
Wherever humans live, there is design: industrial, graphic, fashion. There’s also plenty of craft, the care people take with their work and making. But art is scarce by comparison. We sort of have to work a little to find it.
We’ve become experts at taking music with us wherever we go. We’ve got music players on us and lots of them fill hours of the day with personal soundtracks. Photography, and the cameras on our phones to create it, is an example of a type of visual art that most people in urban—and plenty of rural—centers have with them at all times, too. But both of those mostly exist where they originate: in our pockets.
It’s unusual to see someone carrying painting tools everywhere. Some artists carry pencils and pens and sketchbooks. A few of them work on them in public. But still, it’s rare to see art around, just wherever. Design, by its nature, is in and on buildings, signs, equipment, and vehicles.
Just for fun, imagine how it’d look to have half as much art on view and displayed as there are logos and advertisements. Art is special, but we probably should make more effort to spread it around, and open up new venues to see it. We’d have less rarity, but plenty more expression. Who knows? Maybe our outlook would change to live among it all.