Thursday, February 09, 2006

Conceptual

I'm having a hard time letting this go. I submitted a piece to a juried exhibition to be held at a gallery on Washington Square in the Village with no expectation of being accepted. The piece, "Switch," is an interchangeable diptych that in one position shows a woman threatening a man with a, you know, switch. He's accusational. She's got someone in the offing. They're both quite cranky and not a lot of fun to be around, I bet.
In the next position, if you, ahem, switch the pieces, he's now the one threatening her with another woman in the offing who is holding out a branch to him. The roles are switched. She is the one who is accusational now.
Right? Ok then.
So I bundled it all up in yarn and paper and submitted it and, well cool!, I got in.

On the 4th, the show opened and I dragged Emmie down a Brooklyn subway tunnel, onto the 'F', and up the W 4th tunnel, through Washington Square where a squirrel who knew no fear and had no tail lunged at us, tired of garbage and hungry for human blood. We screeched and slogged our way through the rain holding hands and umbrellas. At the opening, we were confronted with a packed gallery. It was fairly impossible to see the entire show, but when we finally did spot my piece, nicely placed and on a good wall, we both had to laugh and then worry and then laugh some more. Now, I am aware of and thankful for my good fortune in having this nine year-old as my constant support and advisor. When we saw my diptych hung there with the packaging still around it, my good daughter forced me to go up and ask the desk-people for the string to be removed.
A form needed to be filled out. The committee would discuss it. I was not allowed to touch.
As of yesterday, the diptych is still bound up in string. This all raises many questions for me. This makes me rethink my work. Am I a conceptual artist? I don't really like conceptual art usually. What does this piece mean now? Do I like the meaning?
How is it that the jurors accepted my work this way? Will they ever remove the binding? Will they like it the way I intended it?
Why can't I just snip it off with my nail clippers?
Who's in charge here?

Do you ever say one thing and the person you are conversing with hears wrong and laughs because the thing they think you said is really clever? Then you let it slide and claim the witticism as your own because it's better than the original?

Maybe that's what this is.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Errorista said...

So unbelievable it makes sense! I dunno if the yarn/string makes the art more artistic, but I suppose it's all in the hands of the gods (jury) now. It's a good laugh for your funny daughter, and I'm glad she forced you to confront it. That nine year old is smarter and more intuitive than most folks I know. Anyway...cool piece. So unbelievable it makes sense! I dunno if the yarn/string makes the art more artistic, but I suppose it's all in the hands of the gods (jury) now. It's a good laugh for your funny daughter, and I'm glad she forced you to confront it. That nine year old is smarter and more intuitive than most folks I know. Anyway...cool piece. I can't decide which story is the "right" story for it. That's why it's so great. What's a little yarn, anyway?

Again, you're amazing.

Again, you're amazing.

And again, you're amazing.

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Errorista said...

Ooooops. I really shouldn't be drunk at work while writing these things...forgive the repetition. Just forgive it. Let it go. And stop laughing at me. Thank you.

4:27 PM  
Blogger dr. fluffy jones said...

... the string/yarn/yarn string makes a good yarn and strings the two together ... See, you've created a whole new genre of comment! The conceptual comment -- in this case, a diptych. The "so unbelieveable it makes sense"es are like bookends, or the edges of the comment. The repetition of the comment sounds almost like a rethinking, which, I suppose, is exactly how the painting works...one version is a rethinking of the former. And the string/yarn/yarn string, makes a good yarn and strings the two together ...

Not unlike the first and last words of Finnegan's Wake ...

7:01 PM  
Blogger ZinniaSoCA said...

What an odd occurrence! I'm mulling... and mulling... I don't know how to think about this and, like you, I keep coming up with different conclusions. Did they think the string part of the concept? Surely not... Did they choose to leave it on as their contribution to the art? I don't know. Did they think it "said more" that way? Who knows. I think what matters is what YOU think because it's your art, your concept. I mean, hey, does anyone go and add sequins on the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel? How about a heavy gold necklace for "The David"?

If that's what they mean by "edgy" in New Yawk, I hope you won't subscribe to it.

I guess I'll have to just keep mulling. In your place, I would be offended and upset and the whole world would be hearing about it.

Hugs,

MuMo

10:03 PM  
Anonymous BIG Mike said...

I suspect the aliens inhabiting the gallery interpreted the string as part of the piece. Perhaps as a metaphor for the permanent tie between the bickering couple on the canvas.

But I'm a scientist, not an artist, so what would I know.

1:16 AM  
Anonymous fatty said...

sorry, i need help with the visual. are the paintings bundled up to the extent that you can't see them? or can you see the paintings through the string? are the paintings tied together one on top of the other, so you can only see one of them? or are they tied up separately and hung side by side?

they at least took the paper off, right? so you're at least looking at a version of the paintings, rather than packing paper tied up in string as the final product?

even if they got past the packing string thing, i imagine this pair would be a curator's nightmare. which painting goes on the left? which goes on the right? does my decision say something about me that i don't necessarily want said?

2:32 AM  
Anonymous julieturley said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Lilac Penguin said...

Oh the world of jurys...This story is better then the second place in show I got for a drawing that was hung up sideways...

I started including photos and directions for hanging with my entries after that.

I'm picturing the people looking at the installation as if they 'understand' what is going on...

12:09 AM  
Blogger Writermama said...

Wow, I really want to see it with the yarn. I'm trying ot imagine it. I hope they don't take it down before then! How do you get there? Could you comment with instructions? Why won't they take off the yarn as per your request?

5:12 PM  
Blogger newbrooklyner said...

err, I am still trying to figure out the "right" story too. I will give the sequel on Monday. Maybe that will provide answers?
You are am, am, amazing, too.

Dr. FJ? Do you do artist's statements? If not, would you ever consider doing just one?

Zinnia, I guess I would raise a ruckus too if I didn't think there is some message in all of this. (But rest assured, I raised my eyebrow at them. Actions were taken....)
I don't know if this is edge. I don't think so.

Mike I think you are correct about the ties-that-bind interpretation. I really is disturbingly apt.

Fatty, the paintings are bound side by side like siamese twins. It's an interchangeable diptych though (as noted in the title). The yarn doesn't completely obscure the work, but it definitely is the first thing you notice.
I was actually thinking the same as you regarding how a curator would hang this piece. I just waited to see.

lilac p, I think getting explicit with instructions is good advice. Congratulations on 2nd, sideways and all.
I think the juror "gets" the work more than I do.

writermama, it's on Washington Sq. East, next to Starbucks (but what isn't?) I'd love for you to see it with me for laffs and then we'd get a frappucinomacchiatto latte. How 'bout it?

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Mom in Colorado said...

I know that there has been this white stuff swallowing all of NYC, but those of us who are not there are still focused on your next installment regarding what is going on with the paintings. Since it is already Tuesday where you are, I am going to bed and wait until our tomorrow to see what is happening.

1:06 AM  
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8:54 PM  

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