Welcome to CFile’s Year-End Review! We’re revisiting our favorite posts going back to when we first started publishing. They’re arranged in no particular order. We’re not commenting on the quality of what we did (or didn’t) include. Rather, we’re reminiscing about all of the fine things ceramics has given us since our founding in 2013. Think of it as a victory lap after a fantastic couple of years. We may revisit some of these lists in the spring for a special project, so please let us know what you think in the comments.
Raw Clay and Terracruda posts! Let’s go!
Fischli and Weiss at the Venice Biennale
Fischli and Weiss aren’t tricksters, concerned with what they can get away with or what can be considered art: though they often employ mundane, everyday materials and wit and humor are in large supply in their work. High and low aren’t concepts to be pitted against each other but rather the nature of life, which is the subject of their work and this piece.
Sarah McNutt Exposes Raw Clay Women to the Elements
Manhattan, Kansas ceramic artist Sarah McNutt completed work this year on a pair of raw clay sculptures titled Beauty and Natural Forces. McNutt calls the sculptures “sister pieces” which were built in San Deigo University from “junk” clay.
The works were placed in separate areas, one in the woods and one near the ocean. There, they were filmed as they slowly fell apart due to action of the tide and rain.
The Great Wall that Clay Built in Australia
A firm in Australia used rammed earth, one of our favorite architectural styles, to create a 230-meter long row of homes in Northwest Australia. The so-called “Great Wall of WA” comes to us from Luigi Rosselli Architects, a firm that qualifies its work by attempting to find “the spirit” of a building’s location and imbuing the work with that. The project is an answer to the sub-tropical climate of the region; its iron-rich clay both blends in with the land and keeps the buildings cool.
Bert Benally and Ai Weiwei: Pull of the Moon, Part I and Part II
The pot that burns and crumbles follows the lead of Ai Weiwei’s artistic protest of breaking historically significant pots in his own country. In this instance, the pot represents the general stereotypes and misunderstandings of the outside world’s view of the Navajo people. The pot crumbling and revealing the corn sculpture is the breaking down of those views and showing the world the beauty of the Navajo philosophy, culture, language and people.
Adrián Villar Rojas, “Two Suns”
“David’s full-bodied backside faces the viewer, and he looks toward a wall with several windows that have never been exposed before; they’ve always been walled over. The show’s title, “Two Suns,” derives from the two sources of natural light, one from the windows to the south, one from those to the north, that are the show’s only illumination.”
Vlad Basarab and the Decay of Memory
“The past plays an important part in my creative process. My role as an artist is to dig through layers of history like an archaeologist. The Archaeology of Memory series has been influenced by the loss of collective culture and memory. My work is an attempt to make my audience link the present to the past through questioning traditional methods of preserving and transforming collective memory. The time-based work in this series, presented in both real time and as a time-lapse video, addresses different forms of memory loss.”
Mark Manders at the 2013 Venice Biennale
The unfired clay figures in Mark Mander’s Room with Broken Sentence are actually painted epoxy or painted bronze. There are ceramic elements in his installation at the Dutch Pavilion (June 1 – November 24, 2013) at the 2013 Venice Biennale, but don’t trust your eyes, read the materials lists.
Fischer’s unique blend of Pop, Surrealist, and Dada influences are present, hence the melodrama. The overall results are too merry to be macabre, despite the cast off limbs and missing heads. Searle reported that a bit of the Galleon-Divan-Nude sculpture (that you can view below) fell off in front of his eyes. The debris on show was both fabricated and built in: unfired clay will not last.
Adrián Villar Rojas at Serpentine Sackler Gallery
According to Jay Merrick, the Architecture Critic of The Independent, the gunpowder magazine, where Villar Rojas’s site-specific exhibition resides, was only minimally altered in Hadid’s renovation. “The magazine, an encyclopaedia of 18 different brick types, remains much as it was in the early 19th century.” The former ammunition store is a natural venue for Villar Rojas for several reasons. Firstly, he works with brick and unfired clay. He also maintains a studio in an operational, traditional brickworks factory in Rosario, Argentina. The immediacy and rawness of the production process of the factory, which drew Villar Rojas to make his workspace there, is very much alive in the exhibition.
Andy Goldsworthy at Presidio Park
Goldsworthy formed a ball out of branches he gathered over the last year, embedded them in the wall, then dug out the wall exposing the branches, giving them the appearance of having been there a long time.
Adel Abdessemed: L’âge d’or at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Qatar
In his latest outing, a solo exhibition, L’âge d’or (The Golden Age) at the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar, Abdessemed has outraged conservatives who have made accusations of anti-Islamic idolatry. He’s caused derision from the Qatari public and the removal of at least one work. This comes as little surprise and museum director, Abdellah Karroum, acknowledged the “challenging” nature of the show from the outset. Karroum deserves kudos for his courage. The exhibition was curated by Pier Luigi Tazzi.
Karin Lehmann, “Sediment Sampling”
The reason I’m not hiding under my bed right now is because the decay portion of the piece calms me down a little. I like the idea of Lehmann investing so much time into shaping these vessels only to hand the keys of the exhibition to Chaos for the remaining half of it. Dematerialization, unmanaged by Lehmann, is shaping these works as well and the callous randomness of it still holds beauty and purpose. There’s a photograph in this series of a white vase which (unlike the others which are collapsing into heaps) appears to be sinking directly into the floor. It’s easy to imagine that the whole of that vase still exists within the dirty puddle on the concrete.
The first series was for a classroom in Sujata Village, India. Bored Panda states that the work on the walls of the Niranjana School was to raise awareness about how the children and villagers of Bihar live. He used dirt, dust, ash and straw in the work and, when it was complete, he helped the children wipe it away and return the materials to the earth.
Anindita Dutta: Terracruda Goes Secular
The uniqueness of Anindita’s performances is the synthesis of medium and the concept. Through extensive use of clay she has acquired her own medium of expression. Anindita transfers her energy and thought into a direct medium and leaves her presence, marks and movement in the clay, which she captures in video and photo documentation.
Body of Work at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts (September 9 – October 12, 2013) emcompassed Cassils’ engagement with conceptual art, body art, feminism, gay male aesthetics, and Hollywood cinema. It notably included Cuts: A Traditional Sculpture, a montage photograph that documented a 23-week period in which the artist gained 23-pounds of muscle through diet and training, as well as photographs and clay that documented performances of Becoming An Image.
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