Other peoples (public) art: Banksy & Laurence Weiner

I can’t quite believe I am writing this, sigh. As if the guy needs any more attention. That said, I was quite excited by this when walking to work the other day, as this kind of of large scale wall piece doesn’t occur very often in London (unlike New York). As I got closer and I saw a trademark Banksy figure at the bottom my heart sank a little. Not because I really resent him his success in any way. Its just that it would have been nice if someone else had done it. If it hadn’t felt as calculated as it does knowing its by Banksy.

Anyway, its a good starter to clarify something in my previous post. When I was talking about public art in Amsterdam (and Holland), I was talking about state sponsored public art. Obviously there’s a whole world out there of public art that isn’t state sponsored. Just wanted to clear that up. Mainly for myself.

Whilst on the subject, I read a nice Lawrence Weiner interview today in Art Review where he talks a little about his take on public art, and his admiration for ‘public artists’. I’m sorta loath to try and find a pull quote, as like most pull quotes, the context always gets mangled a little. Its not on the Art Review website, so alas one must read it in the actual magazine. Maybe I’ll type it when my list of things to do is less long, or I need another distraction (like typing this thing) from dealing with the urgent stuff.

Lawrence Weiner. Someone I wasn’t really aware of before, like seemingly a lot of art and artists who I now know of a little, but did not prior to being in Amsterdam. For that I am grateful, thank you.

So long Amsterdam…

It was fun while it lasted, but now I am home in London, and do you know what, it feels pretty good to be back without the thought of having to leave again. I’ve a mountain of stuff to climb in this new strange real world, but with deep breaths I shall rattle through it. The sculpture above was my parting gift to the Rietveld. A small token of what counts for me, but didn’t seem to count for them. It’s called Trinning (as in ‘twinning’, but three). Part of an unrealised series called ‘The 1% that couldn’t be’, or words to that effect. If you travel for a while around Amsterdam you’ll regularly come across great hulking bits of curved stainless steel, or abstract wall murals, all in the name of public art. This glut of sculpture derives from a planning law in Holland that states any new building construction must feature some public art. I believe it’s called the 1% rule. A very worthy rule it is too. But alas, public sculpture always has to tick the boxes marked ‘risk assessment’ and ‘durability’ and also probably ‘generically nice’. I had intentions to place some jazzy little numbers in around and about, that work in very much the opposite way, hence ‘the 1% that could not be’.

Chalk battle.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3o-zWeZClA]

In the face of marginal adversity I have been getting on with business as usual. Been working my way through things to complete before I depart these mainland European shores. This was once piece I wanted to get finished, as I didn’t fancy traveling back with a load of suspicious white powder in my luggage. Therefore it had to be used, and used (reasonably) constructively it was.

Favourite recent quotes from the non-news news.

“”They left a complete mess, with broken glass everywhere and pictures off the wall and broken – it was a rave situation,” she said. Mrs Brooks’ husband Bill, 75, said he could not claim on his insurance because of the effect it would have on the premium.”

  

“She said she had learnt of the news while watching Teletext. “I couldn’t believe it. His mum was round at the time.””

 

“Though he lost his hair when he was young, you could just feel his presence when he entered a room.”

 

Centrifugal casting machine.

[googlevideo=http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3990277142623083800&hl=en]

This is a little old now, but I only got round to editing it into a one screen video (I had always wanted it shown on three screens, until I saw it on three screens, and, um, I realised I hadn’t taken TV safety boundaries into account when placing my markers). This piece was a bit of a revelation, as the video & photographic documentation was perhaps more interesting than what came out the mould (which wasn’t uninteresting in itself, just not as interesting).

One shows the other.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFq3veqO4sM]

This was another piece that I had to write a description/concept/context statement for recently. Much like my previous statement about the Open Studio, there is much to be fiddled with still in this text, but hey, its good practice.

The two pieces are long, tall and spindly. Made from off cuts of 2×2, odds and sods, found objects. One of the pair suspends a tree branch horizontally above a blue melamine shop counter of similar length. The other is more erect, but no less crude or precarious. It holds aloft a pair of speakers, and supports an improvised projection booth, which shows a video of the two-hour long process of making the initial piece of the pair. Perched upon and strapped to the underside of its crossbeams it has slow rotating disco mirrors, and a protruding spotlight that illuminates these. These in turn reflect this solitary light source onto the other piece, stood tiptoe opposite it. A mundane, inane, terrible disco song plays on repeat in counterpoint to the banging, drilling and general construction noises emanating from the video that shows the other being made.

The starting point was to make something out of everything I had, as quickly as possible, as opposed to not making something (to fill a void). Once this process was deemed complete, the importance of showing this making process became apparent, and thus the second piece of the pair was constructed to house this video documentation. Each individual concept is represented by an individual piece, making the pair.

The work starts with a primal need to create, and draws upon strategies of letting the materials suggest possible combinations and forms, with the dangers of contemplation and reflection being shunted to one side, allowing something to happen for the sake of happening. As Mr Rotten once shouted “I don’t know what I want, but I know how to get it”. These pieces were not built to last, but they had to be built all the same.