As I’m pulling together The Counterfeit Crochet installation for the Yerba Buena show (opens in less than three weeks –yow! gotta line up all my ducks in a row, for sure!), it’s really hitting me how much I’ve bifurcated my artistic practice between materiality and concept in the past few years, and that I’m itching to get back into the studio to just mess with materials again. I identify as being a “sculptor” through and through, even when I’m working in video, drawing, photography, or what-have-you. It’s because in the end, to me, the work exists as a literal object that has a materiality that is considered to the process and concept, and it still falls in the realm of sculpture in my head.
Sculpture encompasses everything to me, but I heavily associate it with rummaging around in my studio or in a woodshop of some sort (San Francisco Art Institute, circa 1991-95. Ah, sweet memories!), spending hours sitting at a work table considering how a material looks next to another, tinkering, cutting, sanding, smoothing, or pushing together….things. Objects. STUFF.
studio view from 2007
So with the past few years seeing new projects that are more of an “execution” style–and by that, I DON’T mean “killing,” but the “oh, here’s-the-idea-and-now-i-have-to-execute-some-type-of-conceptual-move-to-see-it-through”–I’m realizing that I miss out on the process of tinkering and making that I had more time for in the past. The part where I’m just messing around, putting things together and dealing with aesthetics and material pleasure. I misssssss it so much. I’m also predicting that after the YBCA show is up and I have to start working on a future show for Jim Harris Gallery in June, I’m going to go back to some of the formal sculptural work I was making a few years ago and revisit some of the things I never fully formed way back when.
making “stuff” in Beijing, April 2007
In some way I was trying to meld a dialogue on material criticality with conceptual criticality in my “Material Worlds” graduate seminar class that I taught at CCA in Spring ’07. I’m not sure if it worked on the students as well as I thought it could, but I think it’s also a challenging dialogue: how to talk about the joys, pleasures and pitfalls of a studio process and making that doesn’t sound hippie or hokey, and is actually a measured and considered discussion. That there is actually “meaning in the hands” that you can’t conceptualize over and need to physically go through. It was hard to find texts for the readings that didn’t come across as flighty or vague.
Here’s to sculpture in it’s studio form — the part that’s messy, inarticulate, and has nothing to do with pre-ordained high concept. The part that’s about hands and forms and running your fingers over a material that you’re curious about and wondering how it can be a physical metaphor for an idea or philosophy.
Below are a few artists that I’ve been looking at that trigger a visceral and pleasure response in my “sculpture brain”.
Anna Sew Hoy, hook & eye
Anna Sew Hoy, “Meteor”
Rachel Harrison, Huffy Howler, 2004
Rachel Harrison. What Would It be Like to Be Imelda Marcos? 1996-1997. Chromogenic color print in Styrofoam, papier-mâché, and acrylic, 44 x 21 x 22″ (118.8 x 53.4 x 55.9 cm)
Isa Genzken, Empire/Vampire III, 3, 2004. Various materials, 180 x 70 x 45 cm.
Isa Genzken, Mutter Mit Kind, plastic, fabric, mirror foil, wood, metal, lacquer, 194 x 60 x 100 cm