Month: March, 2012

Gordon Matta-Clark

As i have mentioned previously this blog started purely as a blog for new contemporay art, but the more posts i write i find myself wanting to share and talk about older artists who have shaped my own practice. American artist Gordon Matta-Clark, is most famous for his site specific work and ‘building cuts’ which he produced in the sevenites. These were temporary works created by sawing and carving sections out of buildings, most of which were scheduled to be destroyed, he documented these pieces though photography and film a process which i have become increasingly intrested in within my own practice. The piece Wallspaper (1972) was an installation at the Greene Street gallery in New York, the series of work demonstarted Matta-Clarks method of working through an idea using repetition and representations. Walls consisted of photographs documenting the exposed walls of buildings in New York that were about to be torn down, because Matta-Clark used the same material a number of times the question, ‘what is the work?’ was often asked. Does the work become erased as it is re-used or is this piece only representing an action or place through documentation? Visitors were also invited to take away sheets of the printed matter from the stacks dotted around the exhibition, in a similar was to the artist Felix-Gonzalez-Torres whom i wrote about yesterday.


Felix Gonzalez-Torres

I am currently organising an exhibition with a group of other young artists and I have been toying with the idea of inviting the audience to take a piece of my work away with them. As i work with newspapers, manipulating and changing them into more unique pieces and more recently making text pieces though using the traditional process of letter-press I thought it would be fairly easy to mass produce a piece of work which would be available for the audience to take away for free, this is when I became interested in Cuba born artist, Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Gonzalez-Torres is known for his minimal sculptural installations which are often removable. In many of his exhibitions Gonzalez-Torres has huge stacks of  prints which have been provided for the audience to take away with them, although he emphasises that these prints only exist as an illustration of the original work, rather than a work itself, something which I would like to mirror within my own exhibition. although at first glance the stack of removable printouts may just look like a pile of handouts, they also act as a sculpture which as the exhibition goes by alters and depletes with time, some thing which in itself is interesting.

Gonzalez-Torres made a lot of his most recognizable works after the death of his long-time partner Ross Laycok. Untitled (1991), is a billboard which was installed in twenty-four locations throughout New York City,on the billboard there was a monochrome photograph of an unoccupied bed. In the photograph it is visible that two people have slept in the bed as both pillows have dents where the head had rested. You’d initially associate a bed with comfort and rest, but the billboard has a somber tone which hangs over it. Another piece Untitled (Perfect Lovers) was also made to honor his partner shortly after he was diagnosed with AIDS. The piece shows two identical, adjacent, battery-operated clocks which were initially set to the same time, but, with time, they would inevitably fall out of sync. “By assigning these redundant objects the title “Untitled” (Perfect Lovers), the artist transformed these public, neutral devices used for the measurement of time into personal and poetic meditations on human relationships, mortality, and time’s inevitable flow. Of the light-blue background, Gonzalez-Torres said, “For me if a beautiful memory could have a color that color would be light blue.” ( Although there is a rather serious undertone to alot of Gonzalez-Torres’s work this doesnt take over, a sence of celebration of his partners life comes through his work especially in Untitled (Perfect Lovers).

Marine Hugonnier

Marine Hugonnier is a French artist whose practice doesn’t stick to one medium. In the series Art for Modern Architecture (2004-on going) Hugonnier deals with the relationship between text and image, something which I have also been interested in within my own practice. Whilst looking at newspapers (something which I have spent all of my second year fine art degree doing) I have become increasing fascinated in what happens if you take the only function of a newspaper away, the function of reporting news. For Hugonnier, “the image always comes the promise of an excess of meaning a resistance to its subjection to a purpose of commerce, propaganda and ideology – in short, the spectacle.” ( The relationship between the descriptive and the deceptive is common within newspaper photographs, by removing and replacing the photographs with blocks of colour, I believed that we as the spectator are no longer easily influenced by the text. Like myself, Hugonnier works in certain time scales, a lot of the pieces in Art for Modern Architecture are edited over a week, one a day. Through obstructing the photograph Hugonnier removes the role of the press image, she does this through screen printing a geometric shape over where the photo originally had been placed. This series is in fact called Art for Modern Architecture (Homage to Ellsworth Kelly) and this is obviously evident though the choices she has made regarding covering up the image. Within my own practice I am interested in using a similar process as Hugonnier, covering the press image or text through paint or editing on Photoshop, prehaps using colours and what we associate colours with to replicate the tone of article.

Bas Jan Ader

I recently finished In Search of the Miraculous by Bas Jan Ader and it really is a must read for anyone, not just for those who are interested in conceptual art. In Search for the Miraculous is the realisation of an idea, an idea of the romantic tragic hero on a quest for the sublime. Ader deconstructs every possible element of the idea of finding the sublime, boiling it down to one individual who is silent and alone, an individual who has reached the limits of society and culture, an individual who wants to reach the sublime by travelling across the ocean on a boast by himself. Ader puts this idea into practice though a series of performances documented through photographs, ultimately leading to the solo boat journey. The presentation of In Search of the Miraculous is extremely minimal all excess information is stripped away from the idea, from a conceptual point of view Ader simply plays a role in order to realise an idea which I guess is why he is barely visible in all of the photographs which document his the time running up to the ocean crossing.  The idea of the romantic tragic hero in search of the sublime by setting off on a journey to find himself is exactly that romantic but what is different about this story is that it ended in such a tragic way, the crossing ended three weeks at sea when radio contact with Ader’s boast was lost. In 1976 its wreck was discovered off of the Irish coast, Ader himself was missing and his body was never found. “Thirty years after artist Bas Jan Ader failed to return from a solo crossing of the Atlantic, the interest in his work continues to grow. In less than ten years he created some thirty-five works of art in which falling, physical and emotional vulnerability and mortality are the central themes.” The way in which Ader documented his work through photography and facts is just as current and succesful now as it was thirty years ago. Ultimately Ader’s life ended in such a tragic way but his art is still being discussed today, making him a hero is every way possible.