Friday, August 12, 2005

How difficult is beauty?

This wheelchair is made of cardboard. It was made by Chris Gilmore. When I first saw it, I thought it was brilliant, extremely powerful. The object of fragility, but which at the same time to many people signifies strength, and ability, here is useless, and (therefore?) meaningful. It is a simulacrum, an image of itself, a fake that is the thing itself - as a disabled person may seem (often to himself) the other version of himself. The perfection of the work makes it all the deeper, all the more painful.
The work is part of the exhibition Beauty So Difficult at the Fondazione Stelline in Milan. A review of the show is called Beauty Not So Difficult. In it, critic Rebecca Robecchi explains the "easy" enchantment of art. She also explains that Chris Gilmore makes things out of cardboard. Many things. Cars, type-writers, scooters (, cows).
And that's when I start to have a problem. I feel cheated, betrayed. The cardboard works for the wheelchair, but why the hell a scooter? If the idea is that the entire world can be made of cardboard, I get it, and it doesn't appeal to me any more than any other model maniac. Yes, it's pretty, and I appreciate the skill, but, well, I think, is this all you've got? Is beauty that easy? You need the skill to make a cow out of cardboard, and then it all works fine? It's pretty? And it's art, as in, valuable art, as in, I am to value it? This seems strangely close to juggling. You can juggle any object you want, but isn't it still juggling?
And damn it, I still like the wheelchair.


Hans said...

Vvoi, that bullshit is for sure no art for me. Make it from steel or from silk, it gets no artistic value instead of some material exchange.
I am wondering that you "maybe" liked that. Every Armenian Shoemaker is an better artist in that sense, my grandmother did nice sweaters too...
Come on. Hans

vvoi said...

Hans, as I mentioned, I liked the wheelchair, I was somewhat disappointed to discover the rest was also in cardboard. But then, can't an artist create in any means they want to? And explore it as far as they want it? And shouldn't this count, just as the tampon chandeleer by Joana Vasconcelos? The thing is, why does someone opt for this or that means, and this or that object? And, in a near line, where can it take me? Where does this form take me - and this form in this context (mine, the work's, sometimes the author's)? I know some people make absolutely outstanding works knitting and sewing, so it's really a matter of how you make the matter work. And please have some respect for your grandmother's works ;)

Hans said...

Hi Vvoi, I yesterday maybe a little overreacted, after some Vodka made from Honey, goes straight in the head. Yes of course the artists should take the absolutest freedom, and I also saw good things from sewing, even often today something is good art for me, what it wasn't to me 6 or 7 years ago. Good that values and opinions and points of view change from time to time.

ann said...

Check out Shannon Goff at Susanne Hilberry Gallery in Detroit.

How about that cardboard helicopter???

vvoi said...

well, i bet the copter is very impressive in real life. on a picture it looks, well, large. it reminds me of a jet plane on its back, right now i can't remember who was the author... help anyone? and, to be perfectly honest, i prefered the jet plane (of course, the budget wasn't quite the same).
as for shannon goff's pieces at the exhibition, i enjoyed the mixer. i like the sticky, uncertain look.

Theodore Diran Lyons III said...

Entering late...I "think" I agree the cardboard works for the wheel chair and not for the scooter. It is fragile in the wheel chair and that reinforces the fragility one might feel while being disabled or injured. But then what of the special olympics and of the participants' fragility? 9 out of ten would kick my...arse.

I think the issue you raise deals largely with the problem we've faced since Greenberg's system fell out of fashion. If a medium is to investigate itself, say with abstract painting trying to investigate the properties of paint, what does a postmodern investment in materials look like? We, for instance, start to want to make objects of cardboard, but there seems to be little need for it, which makes the work fall apart conceptually on a certain level. We can "why?" it to death. And what of the wheelchair? There are several works and pieces of furniture made from cardboard peppered all over the web. Cardboard almost wants to be the new IKEA material. Rural Studios makes entire homes' structures and walls in Alabama at times from it. Does this remove my initial tendency to see the chair as strengthened conceptually through its use of a "fragile" material. It seems we have a deconstructed moment in this "Difficult" sort of beauty. Difficult indeed. I hate these sorts of moments, lol.


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