The Street Is As Much A Studio

Rachel Harrison, American Idol, 2008, wood, polystyrene, cement, Parex, acrylic, microphone with stand, 62×24 x 89”. Photo: André Morin. All images of Rachel Harrison’s works courtesy of the artist and Greene Naftali, New York.

“[Rachel] Harrison reports that they [she and Nayland Blake] met seven summers ago while teaching in the sculpture department of the Bard MFA program. They struck up a friendship upon realizing that they both rewarded themselves after a grueling day of crits by going shopping to places they never visited in New York City—Walmart, Target, and, especially, Michael’s craft store in Kingston, NY, where Harrison says they “get all excited looking at grandma craft kits.” They take their critical thinking to the shops with them. Once, at Michael’s, Blake spotted a whitefeathered owl and said to Harrison, “You might need this for your work.” It’s lying around in her studio, waiting to appear in one of her pieces. The idea is one that harkens back to Schwitters and passes through Rauschenberg: de-contextualizing consumer goods and recycling discarded stuff is the basis of a daily sculptural engagement with the world of objects around us—the street is as much a studio as, well, the studio. Both artists mine the inherent theatricality of objects for display.”

[BOMB Magazine interview, Fall 2008]

BIM Process Photos

BIM is currently workshopping their 2012 production, a tour that will take place in fishing enclaves along the Mediterranean coast of Lebanon. They’ve been posting some really beuatiful site and process photos to their blog. I might be designing a floating piece for them sometime next year!

In Loving Memory

Some scattered thoughts about Kristyna & Marek Milde’s installation on the NURTUREart roof:

The installation consists of scavenged chairs, refurbished and sanitized, with commemorative plaques fastened to their backs, plus a map of where they were found, all in various locations in NYC.

This project has it all: love of trash a la Slavoj Zizek, material memory, exaltation of humble objects.

This relational aesthetics-genre piece not only activates relationships and conversations among gallery visitors who lounge on the chairs. It encompasses the whole web of relationships around their provenance: where the chairs were originally purchased, who bought them, the imagined event of their damage or the slow advance of rust or the going out of style, the decision to discard, and finally their placement on a curb in New York where the artists found them.

In a statement, the artists align their practice with a traditional hunter-gatherer way of life. Agnes Varda explores a similar concept in her movie “The Gleaners and I”, about modern scavengers of food and materials. Roger Ebert writes in his review:

In our alley we see men searching through the refuse for treasure. “The Gleaners and I” places them in an ancient tradition. Since 1554, when King Henry IV affirmed the right of gleaning, it has been a practice protected by the French constitution, and today the men and women who sift through the dumpsters and markets of Paris are the descendants of gleaners who were painted by Millet and Van Gogh.”

There’s something wonderful about finding use-value in castoffs. Finding artistic value in their re-use takes it a step further.