Welcome to Spotted, your weekly source for ephemera from the world of contemporary ceramics and contemporary ceramic art.
We promised you the most boring sculpture in the world and there it is, up there in the feature image. Are you thrilled? No? Perfect!
Above image: Carl Andre, Equivalent VIII, 1966. Photograph by Marcus Leith, courtesy of Tate Photography.
Jonathan Jones for The Guardian revisted Carl Andre’s Equivalent VIII, 1966. We have to agree with the assessment that the work is “a bus ride to banalty,” but the fun part is its backstory. Jones explained the history of the peice very concisely. Use this to impress your friends:
One problem is that if you look in your Bluffer’s Guide to Modern Art you will find that Andre is a minimalist, not a conceptual artist: there is a difference. Conceptual art was a movement in the late 1960s and 1970s that replaced paintings and sculptures with ideas: the art object became a concept, something that could not be bought or sold because it was purely intellectual. Equivalent VIII is not immaterial in the way conceptual art aspired to be. It is as solid as brick. It is also as stupid as brick. If this is “idea art” (another term for conceptual art in the 1960s), tell me: what is the idea it embodies?
Equivalent VIII is the very opposite of conceptual art. Instead of airily escaping the physical nature of art into a world of thought, it dumbly and relentlessly insists on its material reality – and nothing else. Being an arrangement of bricks is all this arrangement of bricks does or wants to do. It is brute fact. It is there. And that’s that.
The segment of society that loves to proclaim ignorance of art in the name of common sense began raising a stink in Britain that the work was installed at the Tate and purchased with “mah tax dollars!” (to call up a distinctly American phrase to describe a British controversy). The killjoys could relax, though, knowing that the Tate spent a paltry £2,297 on it. In my opinion they got their money’s worth, and I truly mean that. Be sure to read the whole story. It’s great. Also for more great works in brick check out John Mason’s catalog from the 1970s.
Matt Nolen, Empty When Full
“As a painter, architect, and storyteller, clay provides the means by which I can marry my loves: the painted surface, three dimensional form and narrative content. Ceramics gives me the language to communicate my stories to a world audience,” says Nolen, a studio artist living and working in New York City and Narrowsburg, NY. Trained as a painter and architect, Nolen’s work includes sculptural objects and architectural installations using clay and mixed media.
“Most recently I have turned to the figure as form, departing from the lavishly painted vessels and tiled environments of previous works,” Nolen says. “In doing so, the stories I am telling have become more personal and often are informed by the inner landscape of self.”
Meme Corner #3(?)
I was going to quibble that this isn’t a ceramics meme. If you want to split hairs, this image at least has its roots in snackable content meant to be traded around Facebook. It comes to us from Rumi, a dead 13th century poet who nevertheless has more followers online than I’ll ever hope to. It came accompanied with these lines from the man himself:
Not only the thirsty seek the water, the water as well seeks the thirsty.
I find it relaxing to memorize poetry in my downtime. I have a bad track record at retaining it, but still. Try it the next time you feel like yelling at an acquaintance over a status update.
Salvador Jiménez-Flores at Harvard
Harvard ceramics artist-in-residence Salvador Jiménez-Flores recently wrapped up the exhibition Nadie descubrio las Americas | No One Discovered the Americas (August 29 – September 24). We’re running it now because it coincides nicely with Columbus Day. The artist states of the show:
“My art practice is informed by historical revisionism and explores the themes of colonization, migration (voluntary or involuntary), “the other,” stereotypes and cultural appropriation. I am particularly interested in events that have shaped history in the Americas and its people. In this new body of work titled Nadie descubrio las Americas, I explore the questions of what does it mean to discover or to be discovered, and what are the consequences of the imposition of religion, language and culture to the “discovered” group. Through a visual and cultural syncretism in this series of self-portraits, I combine Pre-Columbian imagery with relevant, present imagery and symbols as a hybrid form.
“Our nation is currently echoing messages of hate, xenophobia, oppression and inequality. As an immigrant, I have experienced this oppression and the challenges of migrating and adapting to a foreign culture, language, and lifestyle. As an artist I feel I have the responsibility to address the issues that affect my community and to create awareness and propose actions through my art.”
Houses in Harlem, But Nobody’s Home
This next piece comes to us from Simone Leigh, who we’ve profiled before. This is from her exhibition with Studio Museum, inHarlem: Simone Leigh (August 25, 2016 – July 25, 2017). These sculptures are installed in Marcus Garvey Park, if you have the opportunity to see them. From the museum:
inHarlem: Simone Leigh synthesizes the multimedia artist’s recent forays into the public realm with her longstanding interest in African and African-American material culture and female identity. The installation, a particularly elaborate imba yokubikira, or kitchen house, stands locked up while its owners live in diaspora, inserts three structures, reminiscent of imba yokubikira (kitchen houses) from Shona-speaking rural areas of Zimbabwe, into the landscape of Marcus Garvey Park. Approximating the scale and outer texture of the round, clay-and-thatch imba, the structures are arranged in a cluster to suggest a community; however, all are without entrances, to both celebrate a diaspora and evoke the displacement it involves.
Enter Marcus Garvey Park at 123rd Street and Madison Avenue or 124th Street and Fifth Avenue to view inHarlem: Simone Leigh.
Collected on Facebook: Art by Hasan Şahbaz
We close out this week with these delightfully porous works by Turkish ceramistHasan Şahbaz. Be sure to send him a friend request if you like his work!
Do you love or loathe these works of contemporary ceramic art? Let us know in the comments.