Arts A Part, Not Apart
posted by August 28 at 9:30 AMon
If I were to pick a city for a weekend trip this fall, it would be San Francisco, where SFMOMA has big doses of single artists planned. There’s the traveling Jeff Wall retrospective, which was worth the 20-dollar entry fee I paid earlier this year just to stand in front of and mentally riff off of this at MoMA in New York:
Picture for Women, 1979
There’s also Douglas Gordon’s Pretty much every film and video work from about 1992 until now. To be seen on monitors, some with headphones, others run silently and all simultaneously. (should be a show easy to take in in an afternoon, don’t you think?), and in the vaunted dead-artist spot comes the seminal Joseph Cornell retrospective, Navigating the Imagination, in its only West Coast stop.
And then there’s the big, first-ever American Olafur Eliasson survey, called Take Your Time, with works dating back to 1993 and two new major pieces. One of those is a kaleidoscopic tunnel that will envelop the museum’s death-defying internal steel truss bridge, and the other is the transformation of a hydrogen-powered BMW race car. The car will be coated in steel mesh, stainless steel, and ice—and displayed in a room-sized freezer. (Transformed cars are a theme this fall—Liz Cohen’s working on finishing up the car in Bodywork.)
Artforum.com has a description of the Süddeutsche Zeitung’s visit to Eliasson’s Berlin studio, which is busy with preparations for the show. In an interview, Eliasson laid out his utopian anti-utopian philosophy more clearly than I’ve heard him do before (even in that New Yorker piece last November).
“My observation is that the artistic avant-garde, with its visions, excluded itself from society,” said the artist. In contrast to the “non-places” of modernist utopian visions, Eliasson’s studio—which employs thirty people, including twelve architects—is more realistic. “My laboratory is not a satellite of society. It’s feasible; there’s a real economy and material that you can put your hands on.”
Since Eliasson wants art to have an integrated function in society, his studio shies away from commercial fetishism. “So that art finds its place in the world today,” says Eliasson, “it must leave ideas of exclusivity and egoism behind—it must be inclusive and recognize causalities. That sounds incredibly holistic, but it’s not meant like that. My last book was called Your Commitment Has Consequences. That’s the way I want to operate my studio. It’s a part of our time.”