Inspiring overriding of disciplinary boundaries. Inspiring expansion of “what a dance (performance) could be”. Inspiring volume of the space where there is no optimal vantage point from where you could see it all all the time – which ties into my current project on perspective.
Ian Burn (b. 1939, Australia – d. 1993) Looking through a piece of glass, 1967-8
So, we are back again to self-referential works. I can only extrapolate and speculate why they were interesting in the 60s, and that is not so interesting for me. What is interesting is why I find them appealing today – in my present circumstances, regardless of the conditions of their making.
One new speculation is arising at the back of my head that it may be some unconscious opposition to contemporary attempts to make art “useful” for society at large by expecting it to deal with contemporary issues and reflect contemporary ideologies. Moreover, a lot of nonsense that is going on in the world may also be traceable to some kind of overthinking, of reading everything out there through interpretive ideological glasses, assigning excess meaning to things and then investing energy in fighting those self-created windmills. Maybe works that insist on their most direct – tautological even – reading, are offering a much needed escape or a wake-up call from it all? Maybe that’s why I am tempted to make them, too?
Franz E. Walther (b. 1939, Germany) Sehkanal, 1968
I like the idea of audience physically engaging with the work and often look for ways to incorporate such elements in my work. Here is a nice example of how it may work – and I especially like it for its conceptual quality. It is not just something you are allowed to touch in order to include tactility of the texture into your sensory reading of the work, but bodily engagement that activates concepts of distance and connectedness, seeing and not seeing, communication etc. Concepts materialised in ways bypassing verbal articulation are cool. I also like that audience engagement (beyond simply looking at work) is needed in order to complete the work.
To be able to do things like that after quitting from art… Awe…
I’ve done a couple of works on much smaller scale and of much smaller beauty that have certain resemblance with this.
But it is for his early conceptual works (after which he resigned from art, to come back a few years later) that I wanted to place him on my list – only that I could not find any relevant images. And I was surprised to find plenty of this… monumental, almost minimalist.
I find support to some of my thinking in his avoidance of subjectivity and exploration of the border – or the interface – between art and science.
Robert Morris (b. 1931, USA – d. 2018) Box with the Sound of its Own Making, 1961
Why do I find self-referential objects exciting? I don’t know. Maybe it’s this illusion of particular completeness and autonomy? Or strengthened emphasis on the object rather than its maker or conditions of its creation (although some might choose to trace the reference in opposite direction and think of all that it took to be made). Or some kind of anchorage to reality? …whatever that is, I keep painting a self-referential painting without a clear reason, too. Maybe I am doing it in order to find out why I am doing it.