Spent a few hours yesterday collecting materials for shrines building, which will start on October 1st in SOHO20’s studio residency.
This included hunting around for a good patch of cordgrass for weaving, and I found one:
The plant sent multicolored runners along the ground, alternating cream & magenta segments. Never seen this before.
“With our present awareness, the arts we have known up to now appear to us in general to be fakes fitted out with a tremendous affectation. Let us take leave of these piles of counterfeit objects on the altars, in the palaces, in the salons and the antique shops.
“These objects are in disguise and their materials such as paint, pieces of cloth, metals, clay or marble are loaded with false significance by human hand and by way of fraud, so that, instead of just presenting their own material, they take on the appearance of something else. Under the cloak of an intellectual aim, the materials have been completely murdered and can no longer speak to us.
“Lock these corpses into their tombs. Gutai art does not change the material but brings it to life. Gutai art does not falsify the material. In Gutai art the human spirit and the the material reach out their hands to each other, even though they are otherwise opposed to each other. The material is not absorbed by the spirit. The spirit does not force the material into submission. If one leaves the material as it is, presenting it just as material, then it starts to tell us something and speaks with a mighty voice. Keeping the life of the material alive also means bringing the spirit alive, and lifting up the spirit means leading the material up to the height of the spirit.”
A new interview with me by Jessica Scherlag is up at fyeahwomenartists.com. Here is the full text:
Anne Percoco was born in Boston and lives and works in Jersey City. She received her B.A from Drew University, attended Rutgers for her M.F.A., and has had solo exhibitions at such locations as A.I.R Gallery and NUTUREart. Below is a recent interview with the artist. For more information on her work, check out her website and her blog.
Jessica Scherlag for Fyeahwomenartists: Many of your art projects take place in public, in nature, and in countries that you have visited. How do you feel about the sometimes “temporary” nature of public art/your work?
Anne Percoco: It comes with the territory of making site and situation-based work. On one level, it’s a relief not to have to keep track of and store large sculptures. However, documentation is critical for these pieces because it’s the only thing that most people will see. Usually I do the photography myself or get help from talented friends. Sometimes there’s a backstory that can’t be communicated through photographs. In that case, I’ll often put together a little book.
Indra’s Cloud; site-specific performance in Vrindavan, India; plastic water bottles, plastic rope, boat; 8 x 6 x 14 feet; 2008.
FY: I am fascinated by your use and reuse of found objects. What draws you to your materials?
AP: Conceptually, I’m interested in to materials that are widely considered to be worthless: phone books, junk, plastic waste, natural materials, etc. This allows me to deal with questions of value. The way we assign value or valuelessness to things is arbitrary—it’s usually based on our own agenda and not on the material itself. By recontextualizing waste materials, I can find great value in them. Also, the way our waste disposal systems are structured does not account for the fact that we live in a closed system. As we know (but sometimes forget), nothing disappears, even if it vanishes from sight. I’m happy to bring our waste back into our view and our thoughts. I’m aesthetically drawn to these materials as well. Often, their wear and tear and texture is beautiful; it tells of an object’s history, which then becomes part of my work and enriches it. I also enjoy the process of collecting/gleaning, as this gives me an excuse to explore my surroundings. Finally, these materials are usually free or very cheap. There are so many benefits!
The Life Instinct; 9 x 9 x 9 feet; three chairs, a bike rack, styrofoam, old TVs, cardboard, string, tape, woven reeds, tree branches, cloth, the top of a garbage can, egg cartons, paper, plastic bags, CDs, and cushions; 2012.
FY: How has your participation in residencies impacted you?
AP: It’s an incredible privilege to have the space and time to focus (e.g. Vermont Studio Center), and the networking and exhibition opportunities sometimes provided are valuable (Residency Unlimited). I find international residencies to be especially fruitful. Being in another country allows me to step outside of my own culture, which is like taking off blinders. In India, I created a residency situation for myself with the NGO Friends of Vrindavan, and I also attended Sandarbh Artists Workshop and Bangalore Artists Center. In the Netherlands, I participated in a residency at Extrapool, co-organized by Sandarbh. I’ve got a residency at SOHO20 Gallery, in Chelsea, coming up in the fall!
Weather Shield for a Migrant Dwelling; site-specific intervention in Partapur, India; plastic food wrappers & packaging tape; 8 x 5.5 x 8.5 feet; 2009.
FY: If you could go back in time knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to yourself 5 years ago?
AP: Every time I’m working towards a deadline, there is an unpleasant period of self-doubt before I figure out what to do. This can last for weeks or even months. I’ve learned that this is unavoidable and to trust myself and my process – to welcome the uncertainty. Nothing comes into the world fully formed.
FY: What creative people inspire you?
AP: Francis Alys, Mierle Laderman-Ukeles, Ann Hamilton, Robert Smithson, Fischli & Weiss, and Rebecca Solnit.
Field Studies; collage from NY and NJ phone books; 14 x 8.75”; 2011.
FY: Did you always know you wanted to be an artist? What did you want to be growing up?
AP: I was into lots of different things growing up, and I didn’t feel pressure to choose. I think I started focusing on art towards the end of high school. In college I double majored in Art and Art History and minored in Chinese!
FY: What upcoming projects are you working on?
AP: This summer I’m starting a shrine project in Jersey City. This will involve building shrines out of found materials, dedicated to infrastructural elements in abandoned, overgrown junkspaces. There might be an augmented reality project in the works as well. I’m also thinking about what to put in the Bronx AIM Biennial next summer.
Kilmer Shrines, Site 5; site-specific project in Piscataway, New Jersey; wood & found materials; 2’ x 2’ x 3.5’, 2007-8.
“Museo aero solar is a flying museum, a solar balloon completely made up of reused plastic bags, with new sections being added each time it travels the world, thus changing techniques, drawings and shapes, and growing in size every time it sets sail in the air. Museo aero solar stands for a different conception of space and energy, both anomalous and forceful at the same time. The core of the museo resides in the inventiveness of local inhabitants, not in its image: among collective action and art, do-it-together technology and experiment, it is a voyage back/forward in time.”
In Vrindavan, if you want to mail a package, it needs to be covered in sack-cloth.
You have to get them stitched up.
I especially like this one, pieced together from two different kinds of cloth.
This is a package I sent to Mike, before its journey. I’d have loved to see it afterwards. I think it included a card, a pack of instant chai, an earthen disposable chai mug (which did not make it in one piece), some masala flavored doritos, a carved Ganesha statue…not sure what else.
This is the debris left from my installation of The Life Instinct. People kept mistaking it for a sculpture! So when Marco suggested I go with it, it made perfect sense. After its transition from non-art to art status, people kept mistaking the it for trash, and a few people tried to clean it up. Love that ambiguity.
It also reminds me of this passage by Rebecca Solnit, from her essay Dirt. She discusses a letter-to-the-editor in her local paper addressing a bronze sculpture:
The letter pointed out that the ratio of disturbed earth to extracted copper is 364 to 1 and that therefore, somewhere out of sight, a considerable pile of tailings exists in conjunction with the sculpture. I am fascinated by this way of looking; by the implication that the meaning of the visible sculpture should incorporate that unseen heap…”
It is really hard for me to mentally separate an art object, the process of its making, and its by-products.
Head nod to ILSSA’s recent show at Saint Mary’s College. They asked their members to save the waste products of their art practice for a whole year, and then displayed that material:
In Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, residents of this shantytown sided their houses with flattened food-aid tins.
via Future Perfect.