In my final installment, I have more of a roving mind than a “roving eye.” Writing this column has been an interesting exercise, and the difficulty has been one of selective memory, and of finding time to dedicate to writing about the works and artists I encounter. Each of us produces so much; we process so many artists; we breathe the urgency not so much of the new but of the “next”; we communicate ourselves to death. But in doing so, we risk losing ourselves in repetition. Multiplicity stands for diversity, but sometimes I wonder if it hides a monolithic experience.
I hope not. I am starving for what I do not understand; what resists comprehension; what enters the world, armed with doubt and sharp edges; works that force us to reconsider what we understand as art, the space used for art, and the time that we devote to art. I was reminded of a conversation with Gedi Sibony in his studio, and the thinking process of an artist moving from one work to another, or from one body of work to the next, without repeating oneself or losing sight of the values identified with work. In the case of Sibony, I started questioning the relevance of the “exhibition” context as the location best suited to experience art in space and time.
The studio is a training ground and offers wildly different access to the artist’s thinking. Without romanticizing inspiration or process, I hope to articulate an incertitude and vulnerability that can liberate the work from being frozen in a definitive time and shape.
Can we learn from the studio without falling into the trap of “exposing” the artistic process and turning the artist into a “singe savant?” A space that allows room for doubt and questioning on the part of the artist? Where a work is shown as an active, living organism? A place rather than a space?
In his workplace Sibony has a kiosk made of found furniture and covered with images of his own work and reproductions of Renaissance works like Giotto’s Annunciation. The kiosk also includes three or four children’s toys, including a small Ferris wheel that is activated by a frantic fair worker spinning its wheel and making sure that the show goes on. The piece, a codex to Sibony’s work, is document, data and melancholic metaphor.
My discussion with Ian Wilson at Dia:Beacon yesterday added to this line of questions. What is entailed by awareness of a work of art, and how can a work remain active and inspire beyond its own material specificity? Of course I don’t have the answer to these questions. Hence I’m off to the “September 11” exhibition at MoMA PS1, and the de Kooning at MoMA, in hopes of getting closer.
Gedi Sibony, The undecided World is Made of Worlds, with The Clockmaker, 2011 (detail). Courtesy the Artist and Greene Naftali, New York