Welcome back to Friday videos, your weekly pat-on-the-back for making it through another week in this flawed, fallen reality. Fear not! there are always ceramics to calm you.
This week we’re taking a break from the materiality of ceramics. Instead, we’re looking at how they can direct our thoughts to more ephemeral concepts— time, place, the untrustworthiness of one’s memory.
Our first selection this week comes from NYC-based artist Liene Bosquê, whose work explores the intersection between ceramics and architecture. That link confused me when I first started learning about ceramics. I realize now that it was nothing more than scale that made them seem so different. Now, the connections between ceramics and architecture are too numerous to count. Liene’s work gets into the intangible parallels, the real fun stuff: memory and place, permanence and plasticity. Civilizations fall. Songs and history become shrouded in fog. Architecture and ceramics are often the last things to survive.
Lucy Skaer: Exit, Voice and Loyalty
I’m a big fan of new media in art, especially seeing the way it can couple with existing, long-established forms. Turner Prize nominee Lucy Skaer went this route with Exit, Voice and Loyalty (2013), using old and new forms in such a way as to create a history-spanning collection of ceramics. Video and electronics seem clean, bereft of their own history or spirituality. Skaer balanced that against material that was charged with a totem-like energy. She pulled the steps from her childhood home and put them on display, for example. From the Apt Institute:
“For her most ambitious solo exhibition in the UK since the Turner prize in 2009, Lucy Skaer presents a new body of sculptures in Tramway’s main gallery. Skaer’s new work engages the idea of ‘prehistory’ – the span of time before recorded history and the invention of writing systems. By extension she is interested in the narrative potential of prehistoric objects and the power of material itself to convey meaning in the absence of written language. Interpreting these themes in relation to sculpture, she explores the tension between material and meaning through a series of handmade and mass produced forms. Skaer uses materials with highly specific histories, ranging from personal space and domestic time, such as the worn stone steps from the house where the artist grew up, to economic value and commercial time: her recent sculptures are carved from ‘sinker’ mahogany – heavy trees felled in 19th-century Belize forests that sunk as they floated down river. These trees were recently discovered and are now dredged and sold for export.”
Yineng Liu: The Wall, A Man-Made Nature Project
Yineng Liu is an industrial designer who concerns himself with brining peace and tranquility into hectic urban environments. The video for The Wall is short, but everything you need to read it is present. Man made objects mimic nature in the form of ceramic reeds and flowers. It approximates the peace of nature, but through sounds that nature itself rarely produces. There’s a tactile element, as people are free to run their hands over the reeds.
The video is soundtracked by Brian Eno’s Music for Airports, one of my favorite ambient albums. It’s not only chill music; Eno produced the album in 1978 as an experiment in changing the context of an airport from something that is stressful, to something that is peaceful. Eno tried to make this transformation with sound. Liu uses sound, visuals and touch.
So many places could benefit from such installations. Public life is a mess of stressful settings, industrial noise, Kafka-esque beaurocratic nightmares, acquaintances you’d rather not talk to, yellow security vests worn by police academy dropouts, baby boomers unloading their emotional baggage on service workers and shrieking toddlers. The masses of on-edge inmates in the public asylum could use this centering, but I could as well. I’m one of the inmates.
That’s all we have for this week. Check back in seven and I’ll have a new collection of videos themed around a different topic in contemporary ceramic art. See you soon!
Bill Rodgers is a writer for cfile.daily.
Do you love or loathe these works of contemporary ceramics and contemporary ceramic art? Let us know in the comments.