a year later: not all finales are grand
about a month ago i received an email:
Unlike unrealized architectural projects, which are frequently exhibited and circulated, unrealized artworks tend to remain unnoticed or little known. But perhaps there is another form of artistic agency in the partial expression, the incomplete idea, the projection of a mere intention? Agency of Unrealized Projects (AUP) seeks to document and display these works, in this way charting the terrain of a contingent future.
Though the state of being unrealized implies the potential for realization, not all projects are intended to be carried out. In other instances, artists deliberately leave works incomplete, to record very interesting “failures” or experiments. Other planned projects involve consciously utopian, non-utilitarian, and conceptual spaces that were not made available for realization. Whether censored, forgotten, postponed, impossible, or rejected, unrealized projects form a unique testament to the speculative power of non-action.
You are invited to contribute your own unrealized projects to AUP’s growing archive. Contributions can include text (DOC) and image files (two JPEGs or PDFs up to 2MB each), and can be submitted online at www.e-flux.com/aup. Please include one paragraph describing your project.
Submission deadline: May 25, 2011
The Agency of Unrealized Projects (AUP) will be opening a temporary office in Basel this June, comprising of an archive of unrealized art projects. This will present projects collected through this open call and those collated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Guy Tortosa following several years of international research conducted in the late 90s. AUP follows the exhibition of the book project Unbuilt Roads: 107 Unrealized Projects, presented as a public archive at e-flux in 2009.
AUP is a project of e-flux in collaboration with the Serpentine Gallery devised by Julieta Aranda, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Julia Peyton-Jones and Anton Vidokle.
Agency of Unrealized Projects (AUP) identity is designed by Liam Gillick.
at least this:
a flower every day
a flower every day was a multi-media response to Marina Abramovic’s Museum of Modern Art retrospective and performance piece: The Artist Is Present (March 14-May 31 2010). It remains an unfinished project
i often respond to the work of others,
not with analysis
but with work of my own
I call this process ArtDialogue
eight years ago,
in response to another Abramovic performance
i made a watercolor project:
Inspired by The House With the Ocean View
a flower every day was my response to The Artist Is Present.
it was an outgrowth of the piece of my daily watercolor practice entitled life(s) lesson(s)
the original premise was
that each day, in honor marina’s “being present”
i would add a drawing of a flower to one of two 40 x 60” watercolors
on the days that i visited the performance,
i would draw, write and photograph.
this documentation, along with other analysis
was compiled on the blog: a flower every day
as the project progressed,
I felt it needed a context outside of the abramovic performance
and I saw its culmination as being a mixed media exhibition consisting of:
the 2 watercolors,
8-12 20 x 24” color photographs of the flowers drawn during the project,
an installation of the flowers used during the project,
access to the blog: a flower every day.
this installation has yet to be realized
“nothingtoodooterencekoh” at mary boone ended last saturday
since an important aspect of my seeing the show for the first time
had been walking into the space without having seen an image of it,
i chose not to post about it until after it had closed
(for those not familiar with the piece, see * below)
brushing through the curtain
to enter the gallery,
my initial reaction was to the silence and beauty of the salt,
massive and alone,
a conical white mountain
rose from the floor
bathed in natural light
from the skylights overhead.
on the far side of the pile,
was not visible to me,
so i had a moment or two
to just absorb the space,
and also the energy
that seemed to emanate from the salt.
when koh came slowly into view,
there was a very humble and simple quality to his presence
and as he circled the pile,
he seemed the embodiment of eternity
like the hands of a clock marking time’s passage,
encased in silence.
returning to the performance a week or two later
i spent more time
and i took pictures
(bad planning on my part)
i had an appointment which did not give me the freedom to experience the piece in an open ended way
i fully intended to go back
(especially since i lost many of the hi-res pix that i took,
the ones here are mostly from a toy camera)
but i didn’t make it.
i have regrets:
not having given myself an unlimited amount of time to absorb the piece
not having gone before the DST switch,
so that i could have experienced the changing of light from day to night.
for me, it for me, it is impossible to consider “nothingtoodooterencekoh”
outside the context of “The Artist Is Present”,
coinciding as it did
with the 1 year anniversary of that piece.
both performances involve an artist;
who is present and is silent
creates a meditative atmosphere for the viewer.
both pieces are “durational”
and demand that the artist confronts physical limitations
creates a voyeuristic opportunity for the viewer.
inherent for me in the koh show
is the window it creates through which one can look at this type of work
an opportunity that was perhaps obscured by the “art star” phenomena,
which ended up eclipsing at times,
the subtleties of “The Artist Is Present”
(or almost lack of)
gives me a vehicle to explore certain aspects of the abramovic piece
as well as some of the issues inherent in this genre of work.
one of my first thoughts is
that a crucial component in shaping such a performance
must be the desire to create for ones audience
a space that supports engagement in some aspect of self-reflection
what else is there to do but leave
once a certain amount of time has been spent “observing”?
and if one just leaves,
how have they experienced the durational aspect?
to that end,
while the publicity generated by any “star quality” on the part of the artist
(or the audience for that matter)
might be beneficial for bringing awareness of the work to more people
it can also distract from the personal experience of the individual viewer.
thus, there needs to be a delicate balance held between
maintaining the possibility for a contemplative experience
while creating enough of a dynamic for the piece to remain compelling
(street art in williamsburg)
and what is it that makes work like this “compelling”?
(it’s not simply a “celebrity” being so accessible for such long a period of time)
i see the answer as lying in the power of “commitment” as a guiding principle.
the creating of
and participating in
durational work requires a profound inner belief,
without that core element
it seems impossible that one could show up day after day
with one’s integrity intact.
in today’s world,
the opportunity to witness that level of commitment in art
amidst what can be a somewhat crass and insincere marketplace
btw, i believe that the ultimate “payoff” in viewing any art
is to encounter a sense of something that is simply “undeniable”.
(tara donovan at pace gallery)
i find the reasons for my regrets about having had an “incomplete” experience with koh’s performance
have a lot to do with its proximity in time to abramovic’s piece.
as i wrote in the last post,
i am not so sure i am finished absorbing “The Artist Is Present”
so perhaps it was simply too soon for me to immerse myself in another similar experience.
but if you have never done so,
i wholeheartedly recommend taking a personal stake in a durational work
(even if only for a short period of time)
and seeing what happens.
*since the intriguing and charming press release for the show does little to describe the performance, here is a brief description:
in the center of the gallery was a 45 ton conical pile of course salt approximately 24” in diameter. 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, the artist, silent, dressed in white, continuously circled the pile on his knees, gazing straight ahead, stopping periodically to prostate himself on the ground. more koh
it’s a reoccurring theme for me:
(especially when working with diptychs)
often it is the space between 2 things
that i will find to contain the most meaning,
that feels the most poignant,
that embodies the most potential.
and once again,
this seems to be the case.
1 year later
“a flower every day”
remains an “unfinished” work
and the space created between the two drawings
throughout this blog,
i have written extensively about my initial expectations for/from this project
and how my experience with it evolved.
for quite some time it felt like
the being present,
the documentation, both written and photographic
would resolve in a mixed media presentation
1 year later,
i am not so sure,
but over the past week
i have feel it necessary to revisit my experience
and to try to place the 3 months i spent in the atrium
along with the connected work in my studio
into some sort of context.
i started last saturday by putting the flower drawings back up in my studio
while making these drawings
i was most definitely concerned with creating a “product”
looking at them critically,
i feel they speak about process
i don’t feel they are necessarily “transformative” in and of themselves
and i don’t find them to be “finished works”
i can only see them in terms of being a journey back to the self.
this would have been inconceivable to me a year ago
but perhaps this realization
will ultimately be the biggest gift of the entire experience:
whatever it is that one might feel in the present
whatever one’s “truth” might be
may shift over time
and if there is to be growth,
it WILL shift.
but it is only by being present
that one can experience this
if one lives in the past, there will be disappointment
if one lives for one’s goals, there will only be expectations
but if one confronts
what actually exists in the present,
there will be grounding.
sunday i read through the accounts of my visits,
starting from (my) day 1
and i am immediately transported back in time
to when i made this little offering
and everything that happened after.
after reading just the accounts of my visits
i went through the rest of the posts,
which allowed for a very condensed image of the entire performance;
i can still access the intensity of the atrium,
and my experiences sitting
but it feels as if much more than a year has passed,
or that all this occurred in some other time frame,
in some sort of parallel world.
(nb: it is not uncommon for me to have chunks of my life feel this way)
i am not sure where i stand with these drawings…
my daily process includes making a drawing from life every day
so that aspect of the project is on-going
I don’t know if i will pursue the concept
to work with the flower photographs from this time period
and create a mixed media piece
but i do know know
that 1 year later
my commitment and ability to inhabit the “being” part of my psyche
has grown considerably
this is huge.