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Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Artists Speak: No. 8 and No. 32

posted by on August 30 at 9:30 AM

The opening of the Olympic Sculpture Park was (and, one hopes, will continue to be) a great opportunity to talk about sculpture.

For two weeks in a row, I got together with an awesome crew—the artists Tivon Rice, Susie Lee, and Mike Magrath, and the writer/curator Suzanne Beal—and we sat around a table, early in the morning, and figured some things out. For instance, we found ourselves arguing for the visible death of individual sculptures as a way of allowing them to fully live.

The podcast of the second gathering (you can just click and listen) hits a climax when we start talking about Terri Schiavo’s shadow-life, Joseph Beuys’s dried bits of fat, and Mark Dion’s terrarium.

Graves: The aura of the object, the smell of the fat—where is the smell of the fat in this piece (by Dion)? Magrath: It’s in the mist. It’s in the smell of the tree. It has to be the energy that is in the system. … Lee: When you talk about decaying materials, the aura is actually the viewer’s projection of the end—that’s the potent part. When you look at something that is living, you automatically have to assume and project the end. Beal: I agree with that completely, and I think it would be very interesting if we could just commit ourselves to saying, “This exists as it is right now with this process of decay—let it decay, let it become dust or nothingness within the box and let’s just live with the memory of what it was.”


Now, just last night, Olga Koumoundouros’s A Roof Upended—a sculptural installation based on death, decay, sustenance, and ideas of progress—opened at Open Satellite.

Making the installation involved raiding an abandoned and crumbling suburban shack just around the corner from the new high-rise residential tower that houses the gallery, as well as adapting the residential tower’s slogan, “Beyond Just Living,” into the jabbing phrase “Beyond Living Just.”

In a conversation last week before the opening, Koumoundouros describes how her socially critical practice, based in the ever-problematic American dream, “breaks in” the Open Satellite program:

Koumoundouros: I was raised by my grandparents who were Greek immigrants. My grandfather had a very successful (life) and definitely moved up in class, but also, on his death bed, wished he had never left, knew how much he gave up. So what do you do with that?


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