October 6, 2008, 2:24 pm
Filed under: English | Tags: , , , ,

The big reader that I am I try to get my reading done in small doses usually when I am on the road.  This past week I managed to read a couple of articles on the train to Krakow from Warsaw amid my mom’s disapproval who naturally felt the right thing to do would be to look out the window and actually see what Poland looks like.   I told her I had to finish reading the article I had ripped off the Summer issue of Art Forum and that I would never get around to reading it otherwise.  She knows how little I read so she had to agree.

Anyway, I will not write much about Poland here although we did have a very interesting trip as a family and learnt about Poland’s unenviable history and their victories, well, one really of their popular King Sobieski who ‘allegedly’ defeated the Ottomans in Vienna (allegedly because mom thinks it was a political decision on our part not to advance further).  In the end, us Canevi’s didn’t like this Sobieski guy very much.  We also followed almost obsessively the US vote on the ‘bail out plan’ and fooled ourselves that Turkey might come out of this crisis strong and buy my art.  Finally, we drove to Auschwitz in a freakin’ Mercedes to see with our own bare eyes how evil the human race can be.  I can easily say it simply felt WRONG to see chaotic student groups ‘excited’ to be at the camps still drenched in sheer horror.  This is not another Holocaust film people!  People were murdered here…

Ok, I feel uncomfortable writing something ‘arty’ now (and I really do) but I will.  The article I read in Art Forum was titled ‘Rites of Silence’ and dealt with the artist Wade Guyton’s seemingly silent engagement with ‘content’ in his work.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when the article I chose to read on holiday dealt with the very issue of content which I seem to struggle with lately.  How does one contextualize work?  Apparently what Guyton did and I think still does is that he admits to his awkward relationship with content and chooses to place this awkwardness at the heart of his work.  For example he takes an approach to making art where he recycles magazine pages with preexisting content and applies simple letters over them.  He prints a big ‘X’ on a page with text that is content-wise irrelevant.  His aesthetical choices preside over this act of recycling and application and the outcome is something beautiful and he still deals with issues like content and its relevance to the work.

I also read an interview with my ex-tutor Peter Davies who became famous while he was still at College (I am jealous! Oh, yes, I am!)  He seems to want to tackle similar issues of content (and context) in his paintings where he ranks artists, i.e., paints lists and therefore uses text in his work.  He too must think of text as a way out of his anxieties as a painter who makes beautiful objects and is not satisfied with just this.  I must admit I have been thinking of letters in my search for new forms and meaning too.  It feels like this literal, clear and pure act of hinting some sort of engagement with the written world of art while making something that belongs to the painted world of art might actually work.

On that note I should mention a text written by artist Ryan Gander (with whom I had had a tutorial, thank you very much) my good friend Nick had recommended that I read.  This is a semi-autobiographical, semi-fictional account of Gander’s ‘investigation’ into a Rietveld lounge chair.  The text is designed to accompany a serious of experiments involving the deconstruction and alleged reconstruction of this Rietveld chair by various children.  When I saw the chair on the cover of his handout I almost fell of my chair people –both of them (i.e., my chair, and ‘the’ chair which is my logo)!  Someone else going nuts over a chair made me feel, well, a bit nauseous at first and then I became a true admirer of Gander who is clearly a very intelligent man like ‘other’ chair-obsessed artists.  In my view, the text itself was the work in the end.  Gander dealt with his issues regarding context (and content – ok, it might seem like I am having a bit of a confusion as to the meaning and relevance of ‘content’ vs. ‘context’ but they do overlap, right?) with a sharp self-critical humour in his text and it is beautiful!

As for me, my engagement with text thus far is my blog ‘Chairman’ but I am telling you all this hodgepodge is organically tied to my work.  It is all ‘organic’ people!


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