Valuing vs. being indifferent to permanence.
Katharina Grosse’s Public Art Fund artist’s talk at New School last night was inspiring. Her large scale, site-specific spray paintings were a revelation to me. I enjoyed how she constructed her talk from a studio perspective, revealing how the questions she asked herself led her to new questions and techniques in subsequent works. Her practice seemed experimental, and her thinking fearless.
Frustrated with the NYC’s market orientation, and its emphasis on permanence as a way to protect artworks’ commodity values, I asked Grosse about how impermanence shapes her work. She said she doesn’t think about it. She is most excited about making the work, rather than looking at the work. Before she moved on to a new question, she added that thinking about permanence may hinder one’s studio development.
Maybe I have been privileging permanence. When I look at recent projects, I have been making art objects that are easily shipped and exhibited. It’s been a matter of logistics and productivity—my capacity is such that I feel the need to take opportunities even when I have limited time and budget, and having works ready to ship makes that more feasible. At the same time, maybe to some extent I am limiting myself with values and conventions of the art world that are not my own.
I admire how Grosse is simultaneously unpretentious and confident about her practice: there seems to be no gap between this is what I’m interested in, and this is what I’m going to do. It’s an unrestrained way of working. I wondered how my art would grow or change if I had 5% more of this fearless quality. Or, what might my work look like if I spent a year making only temporary, ephemeral projects?