Vincent Dubourg at the CWG

Vince Dubourg is a French designer working between Paris and London. His work is an amalgamation of furniture, architecture and sculpture. Dubourg takes on the traditional forms of design, but then intervenes to change its structure. His exhibition at the Carpenters Workshop Gallery titled Inside, started the 18th of March and goes on until the 28th of May.

In the eight pieces exhibited the designer demonstrates the destructive qualities of the material. Although previously he has worked with wood and found materials, all of the pieces shown are made with aluminum.

Dubourg uses traditional furniture-making techniques such as metal and wood bending, casting, and twisting branches to create harmonious pieces that challenge our perception of the way furniture should look like . In the two pieces shown above, one is a buffet table and storage, and the wall fixture is a shelf.

However, the randomness of the destruction process is not evident in Dubourg’s work, as each element is carefully studied and placed in relation to the other parts. When looking at his work I get a strong sense of constraint coming from the designer where spontaneity is no where to be found.

His early works and working with found branches, a natural material which is extremely spontaneous and at times hard to control, Dubourg describes his relationship to it as

“each trying to tame each other: a young branch, inflexible, and me, demanding. And this led us to find a harmonious whole, which is translated into a dance of curves. Only then can we develop an alphabet, which in turn leads to phrases that make a dialogue possible.” (Dubourg, vincent-dubourg.com)

This sense of wanting to ‘tame’ and manipulate the material to what the designer wants crosses over to the works in this exhibition.

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Paved With Good Intentions

 

Ron Arad’s installation piece Paved With Good Intentions is the image that I have chosen to base my project on. He is someone that has crossed the designer artist boundary so seamlessly and I believe this furniture/installation piece represents that very clearly. I want to examine the ways in which designers and artist have blurred the boundaries between art and design especially the sculptural aspects of the art world while still maintaining the integrity of each.

British Art Show 7

The British Art Show 7 In the Days of the Comet at the Hayward Gallery in Southbank Centre takes place every five years and showcases British artists whose works have had a significant contribution to contemporary art. It is curated by Lisa Le Feuvre and Tom Morton who are both curators and writers. The exhibition which started off in Nottingham in October 2010 will continue its tour to other UK cities such as Glasgow and Plymouth. The works range from installation, to sculpture, video, painting, performance and drawing produced by 39 different artists.

I chose a few works by artists which dealt with either issues or techniques that I found I could relate to with the work I am producing now. Sarah Lucas is one of the Young British Artists and her work deals with bawdy humor and sexual identity with the use of found objects. In this show Lucas exhibits her Nud series which is a series of sculptures made from skin-colored stuffed nylon tights twisted and turned into ‘biomorphic forms’. These forms sit on wood and conrete plynths and from far away look like stone carved sculptures and it is not until you get really close that you realise that they are made of much softer material. Although it is meant to look like the outside of the body, to me it looks like something I can find on the inside as well. What drew me the most about this work is the deception of the material and the way it has been used to give the illusion of a material traditionally used in sculpture.

Mick Peter is another artist whose work misrepresents the objects used, so what is usually considered to be heavy is made by using a different material to make it almost weightless. This reminded me of a piece I did for my Going Public exhibition where I built a prototype of a chair using copper pipes and wax. Here I used the softer and weaker material to be the support of the stronger one and what is keeping it from falling apart.

Here Peter creates an architect’s drafting table which has been cut and hollowed by what seems to be the drawing instruments used on the table. Peter portrays this lost craft in the world of architecture where drafting tables have become almost obsolete as they have been taken over by digital technology. This in some ways reminded of the time when art and crafts were getting lost to the industrial age and modern design. Additionally, how the design process in itself has become computerized and precisely cut in order to fulfill the consumer demand. However, in this process I feel like the hand of the maker is being lost and many designer are moving away and going back to hand crafting their designs.

The last work titled An Exhibition of Modern Living (2010) which is an installation piece by Matthew Darbyshireh deals with like much of his work the consumer culture we live in and the way in which the obtaining of these objects brings with it a promise to alter our lives. This installation which you can walk through is a display of contemporary mass produced objects of design such as Converse Allstar shoes, contemporary designs of lamps, pillows, an Arne Jacobsen chair and stools. Once entering the space of the installation it has a feel of being inside one of Ikea’s display rooms which is what the artist intends.

This piece reminded me of Appadurai’s text The Thing Itself where he discusses his views on things having a social life. Darbyshire’s work is a clear example of what Appadurai was talking about. Here Darbyshire takes commodity objects and transforms them into works of art by changing the setting in which they are viewed; from a retail shop to a gallery space. Therefore, the status of the objects has changed. Additionally, the artist shows us how by acquiring these objects they will give their owners a certain value and appearance of tastefulness and so even their status within the commodity world differs from other objects around them.

The first two artists had works which showed me how I could incorporate what they were doing with what I was trying to do and the final piece showed what it is I did not want to do. Although I want my work to be able to be commercial in the sense that it is I want it to sell, I also want it to be able to be displayed in a gallery space. I want to move away from pure design and mass production and merge my work with sculptural features.

The last piece I want to talk about has little to do with what I am interested in, actually it is one of my least favorite mediums of art, and that is video. There were several videos showing at the British Art show and I had to force myself to enter and after the first two I gave up on the idea all together. However, just before leaving there was one video piece by Christian Marclay called The Clock that drew my attention. It was a 24 hour long video made from several thousand clips from Hollywood movies where scenes of a clock or time were shown. Each clip is no more than seconds long before another clip started and completely changed the narrative. The only constant thing was that the clips showed the time of day and as the time went by in reality so did the clocks in the movie.

Marclay joins the two worlds of reality and fiction and the sense of timelessness and being lost in a movie  is taken away by the constant reminder of actual time in real life. For someone who is obsessed with time this piece has a both reassuring and unnerving affect. I was completely drawn to the time in each scene and for someone who is always looking at the time it was comforting to see it appear before me. However, because the clips were only seconds long it felt like time stretched much longer before the next minute passed. I could only stay for a few minutes before the struggle of constantly getting lost in fiction and then brought back to reality became too much for me.

Overall the British Art Show brought forward a good range of British artists from different fields of the art world and showed the direction which contemporary British art is taking.

Tobias Rehbereger talk at the AA

The Architectural Association at Bedford square was hosting a talk with Jeff Kipnis and Tobias Rehbergher. Jeff Kipnis is a Professor of Architectural Design and Theory at the School of Architecture at Ohio State. He is also a filmmaker, curator and critic. Tobias Rehberger is a German artist who creates environments where furniture, sculpture, design and all other kinds of media come together. His work is created with the help of friends, family and people he has never even met so that what is produced contains elements of the artist as well as the people who helped create it.

I had never heard of Rehberger and did some research on him before going to the talk. After doing some research and looking at some of his works I found out that Rehberger had an interesting way of making his work. For one he never confines himself to one discipline so he creates paintings, furniture, cars, garages, videos, installations, and posters. Most of his work is done through group participation and the notion of the singular genius artist is not something he is interested in, instead he questions notions of authorship through his work. The openness of Rehberger to incorporate all kinds of media is something that draws my attention when looking at artists and the ways in which they make the work, which is why I decided to go to this talk.

Jeff Kipnis invited Rehberger to talk at the AA because he realised that although Rehberger has worked with many different kinds of people he had never invited a critic to participate in any of his works. So Kipnis asked Rehberger to join him in this talk after spending little time with him and not knowing much about his work (Kipnis admitted to only reading three or four paragraphs online about Rehberger) and have him do a presentation on works he has done in the past 15 years which Kipnis will later criticize.

Rehberger chose several works to present and he talked about the processes which his work took in order to come about and explained his reasons for doing each piece and the choices he had to make. An example of Rehberger working with other people is the sketches he drew of cars such as the porsche, VW beetle and the Mclaren which he then sent to a factory in Thailand to produce as a real functioning car. The workers only had the drawings to work of from and any decisions left to be made from then on were left by the artist for these workers to make. Rehbergher likes to let the element of chance to happen in his work and does not take control of all aspects which is part of the way he works.

He has a humorous way of making criticisms on certain aspects of contemporary art and the way in which it is displayed. He took suggestions from visitors of a show on how to make the gallery space better and one suggestion was to change the floors to wood as it looked better and sounded nicer when you walked on it. Rehberger did precisely that but painted the floor lime green which reflected onto the paintings on the wall and affected the colors on the painting. It was his attempt at removing the neutrality that the exhibition space is supposed to have.

Location is something which Rehberger has dealt with in his works. He did an installation in a long dark tunnel in Tuscany where he installed light fixtures that gained its energy from the amount of sun shining in Monte Video in Uruguay. Another example is his orange box installation which is painted black on the inside and is completely dark except for a small lamp on the corner which is controlled by a 16 year old boy in Germany who has the exact name as Rehberger.

He also deals with the absurd and showed us images of his 85 year long movie which is simply colors changing because the eye cannot see through all the pixels reflected of of the screen and so the only thing we can see is a screen which changes color from time to time. He wanted to create a movie which no person could ever watch in their lifetime. He is also interested in functionality and introducing sculptures onto everyday life and so he created his handicap sculptures where disfunction is seen as a function in itself. He almost never designs anything for what its actual function is which is the complete opposite of the way I work and is something I find fascinating.

As he went through the slides there were always some that he passed over never stopping for more than a split second and I never got the chance to see what it is he was deciding to leave out. At the end of the talk Kipnis points that out and Rehberger says that they are images of eggs in different locations and is meant to be a ‘sorbet’ or palette cleanser to give us a break between the works.

After Rehberger completed his presentation Kipnis went on to talk about how art has had to look at conventions of authority and the ways had to undermine it. He gave the example of Rauschenberg. He also pointed out that just like Rehberger we need to look at the comdey side of art and not just the tragedy. That is not to say one must disregard it but find a balance of the two. He was also interested in looking the way that art has become laborless art and yet at the same time squanders labor.

He also wanted to consider the critic as a performer and so  he had to konw something about the work and also had to not know about the work which is why he decided that what he had already gathered from his brief research of Rehberger was enough and he would leave his presentation to be seen only at the time of the talk.

There was good chemistry between the two and the audience could easily see that. However, I wished it was a smaller crowd to leave room for more audience participation and questioning but instead the questions turned more into the discussion of tragedy and comedy in architecture where Kipnis did most of the talking and there was only one question directed at Rehberger. I wish there were a better chance of exchange with the artist at the end of the talk.

Proposals for paper

Listed below are the 3 proposals of issues and themes I would like to write about:

  1. Where design and sculpture meet. Design has always been seen as a discipline separate to the art world. However, more recently many designers work have taken on sculptural aesthetics as well as the functional ones necessary for design. Artists such as John Chamberlain, Donald Judd and Ron Arad come from either a sculptural or designer backgrounds and have at some point reached a middle ground between the two and have exhibited in spaces usually kept for art. I would like to examine the differences and similarities in the process of creating sculptures and design pieces and the point where the two meet and what is the significance of this to the design world today.
  2. The notions of authorship, simultaneity and location in Tobias Rehberger’s work. I will look at the works produced relating to each theme. For authorship his car and garage series, for simultaneity the chicken-and-egg-no-problem a retrospective/wall painting/installation, and finally his light installation that deals with the concept of location. How these themes and the ways in which they have been realised alter the role of the artist in contemporary times. His works are then related to other artists working under the same methods such as Alighiero Boetti, Donald Judd and Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Additionally, how the element of control and chance effect the outcome of his work.
  3. The museum and gallery space today. With almost a century of institutional critique and attacks on the gallery space where so many artists attempted to remove the ‘neutrality’ of the space starting with Duchamp’s  Mile of String to Michael Asher’s removal of a gallery wall to reveal its mundaneness and many more and after the shock element wears off and almost every possible option to remove the sense of the sterile white box devoid from any and all outside elements has been attempted, how do we see the gallery and museum space today and how has its function changed since then?

20/21 International Art Fair

The Royal College of Art for the fifth year hosted the 20/21 International Art Fair. It opened on Thursday February 17th and ended Sunday the 20th of February. I went to see it on Saturday for the first time and was amazed by the amount of work that was on display.

As soon as I entered the building I felt like I was transported back to the 19th century and entered The Salon exhibition in Paris. Paintings, prints and photographs were stacked on top of each other starting with the bigger ones on top and working its way down. It felt as if I was bombarded by everything that was on show and took me two rounds before I started to get a feel of what I was seeing. I started to notice that there were sculptures and ceramics on display as well. My reaction to the art fair is probably because I am so used to the highly studied and editorialized aspect of the gallery and exhibition space that I tend to expect that in everything related to art, whereas I should have been more aware of the fact that this was a fair and not an exhibition.

This fair brings together over 60 dealers of modern and contemporary art from all over the UK as well as international dealers, which results in a highly diverse collection. The works displayed were for sale and it was interesting to see how much some of the pieces were sold for as there were some famous artists work such as Hockney, Chagall, Matisse and Moore. I think the fair brings closer art and public as many of the pieces showed thee prices next it and even though there were some steep prices there were others that were more reasonable. This takes away from the intimidation of galleries and dealers where you may find yourself taken away to the back room before you are given a price.

One piece that stood out to me was graphic designer Paula Scher’s painting of Europe where she maps out the borders of the countries and writes down the names using bolder handwriting and then all the cities inside the country using much smaller type. The placement of the cities are relatively correct but the names of the cities do not occupy an absolutely correct space and move according to the shape of each country. I am very obsessed with location and where I am in relation to places and things around me especially when visiting new countries and I am constantly drawing maps in my head. Her is something I can relate to as she takes the exact science of map drawing and uses it in a much looser sense.

O’Doherty’s Inside the White Cube

In Brian O’Doherty’s Inside the White Cube (The Ideology of the Gallery Space), he examines the ways in which modern galleries and museum spaces were set up after the Second World War in Europe.

His book contains three essays the first is Notes on the Gallery Space. In this essay O’Doherty describes the gallery space as a clean laboratory-like place which has been steralized from all contamination of the outside world and has removed all cues that interfere with the fact that what is shown is “art”‘  (O’Doherty, 1976, p.14).

The windows are sealed off to remove any sense of time and O’Doherty says this a sign that the ‘outside world must not come in’  (O’Doherty, 1976, p.15). This may be because the piece of artwork needs to have this eternal feature just like the gallery which seemed to have the sanctity of a church where sacred items are being held. Therefore, all aspects of the outside world which can take away from its sacredness is not welcome. Only the minds and eyes are welcome to get close to the work but the physical bodies are not. Works are mounted on walls or pedestals covered by glass which keep curious hands away from the work so as to not taint it.

He then goes on to discuss the shift that photography has brought on and the ways in which framing has changed since then. He said that the ‘edge as a firm convention locking in the subject had become fragile’ (O’Doherty, 1976, p.20).Up until the 19th century subjects in painting were set in ways which strengthened the frame. They were framed within actual physical frames, such as Samuel F.B. Morse’s Gallery at the Louvre (1831-33). The paintings were framed so that each stood alone and had no relation to the ones around it. However, with the start of impressionism this becomes less and less apparent. The paintings produced had the ability to create horizons that pushed through the limits of the frame and seemed to go off it. This echoed into the way in which paintings were hung each on separate walls instead of stacked on top of one another. As photography came about it took this even further and was ‘devoted to the excision of a subject from its context’ (O’Doherty, 1976, p.19). With the ease in framing, editing and cropping that photography brought about, the act of composition and choosing what was to be inside or outside the frame became much easier. There was a change in the ideology of adding to the field by going laterally instead of deeper into the image. Photography also resulted in the removal of the heavy wooden frames and was replaced by boards. This meant that not only was the actual frame removed but also the ways in which the subjects were represented, and so the edge is no longer an absolute entity but became a place where things can continue instead of end.

Durign the 19th century the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Paris had a very specific view of how art is taught and the way it had to look. It held an annual exhibition called the Salon where hundreds of painters exhibited their works after being approved by the jury. Courbet an almost self-taught painter who’s focus was more on realism and portraying everyday people who  had previously exhibited in the Salon had three of his monumental paintings (including Burial at Ornans and The Artist’s Studio) refused by the jury. He decided to take matters in his own hands an set up a pavillion outside the Exposition showing forty of the works he had done in the past 15 years. O’Doherty says that this was ‘the first time a modern artist had to construct the context of his work’ (O’Doherty, 1976, p.24). This is because for the first time an artist took his work outside the confinements of a gallery space and onto the streets. This completely changed the context of his work in relation to the sacred space of the gallery and into a space where the rest of the world can see it. His work was no longer set up in a special space, but instead somehwhere where only the ordinary exhisted and Courbet  by doing so took his art and connected it with the outside world.

(A Burial at Ornans, Courbet, 1849)

(The Artist’s Studio; A real allegory summing up seven years of my artistic and moral life, Courbet, 1854-55)

O’Doherty in this essay shows the ways in which the modern gallery space has come to its current form and we are now able to see the ways in which this has changed since it was written. In most museums and galleries nowadays the works are given their own space and far from any unwanted interference from other works. The works are mounted on a clean, white, well lit walls freed from any distracting elements that might interrupt with the interpretation of the work. There is also the idea of the throne where the most important work is placed in seclusion of everything else not only in a separate wall but many times in separate spaces and rooms (such as the Mona Lisa in the Louvre).

The idea of space becomes an integral part in the process of creation in modern artists works and I have seen this first hand when curating our Going Public exhibition. I was given the responsibility of selecting the space where each of the students work was to be exhibited. Each student had a very specific way in which they wanted their work to be seen and it was my job to ensure that that was not lost yet at the same time put out a comprehensible exhibition where even though the works do not relate to each other an element of comprehension between them needed to exist.

Space now becomes the second most important aspect after the work itself where the white wall is no longer a neutral zone and the works claim territory in a “placeless modern gallery” (O’Doherty, 1976, p.27).