Monday, 12 April 2010

3 observations on landscape (iii)

observation (iii) is putting into words the experience that was so eagerly anticipated:

3. bethan huws's il est comme un saint dans sa niche, il ne bouge pas, kestner gesellschaft.

the first piece of her i saw - or rather: read about - was the lake writing or lake piece (1991). [with a review and an installation shot here]

it was shown to me by someone who had fallen in love with text, words and the discursive possibilities of art. and it was shown to me at a time when i was glad to revel in the immediacy of artistic practice after turning away from word-laden or -leaden (?) academia.

and nonetheless: i think i pretty well caught the same falling movement (happiness drip, drapping downwards as rilke wondered and twombly installed here) and wanted to see, read, know and understand more.

singing to the sea was the first actual experience of huws's work.

and now a show that was enframed by huws statement that she 'does Duchamp like she does crosswords'; and the exhibition spaces itself announcing at its start: 'why do we keep creating more artworks if we don't understand the ones we've got'. the show gives insight (as well as positing so many more questions) into huws's approach towards duchamp's work, the search for meaning-making in art and language. the ambiguity of translation processes from her native welsh, english and french figure throughout - in various ready-mades, the films 'fountain' and 'the chocolate bar'.

the most expansive (if only in terms of physical space) of her works in the hanover show is the marriage (marier quc a quc: also, to unite two separate objects) of her installation space the forest (made up of many, many bottle driers, another ready-made of Duchamp) with the wedding video she screened originally inside a woodland (a marriage in the king's forrest).

much of her art seems pared down, stripped back to some key questions of meaning-making and the relation this quest establishes between subjects and objects (though agent and receptor isn't clear-cut here). there is something in her work that seems to me very dateable: it reflects a pre-occupation with text and discursiveness i know from my own academic work.  there is something in this that, in an academic context, i would refute: notably her attempt to make everything transparent by ever more circles of reflective practice. it's a practice which is necessary but remains, in my mind, futile: not everything of who i is can be rendered discursive and transparent.

there are many openings towards academic work practice and artistic possibilities in this. textual art works is something of an unknown to me. almost deliberately i stayed away from text because it was too closely tagged to academic work. i think that division can no longer be upheld.

but this is really about an observation on landscape. it's a tentative one and takes us back to nature and the opening of different media required. it is glimpsed at in the forest marriage of bottle driers and a rather ordinary wedding video: of how meaning-making takes mundane forms and combines diverse media. and the attentiveness and searching nature of huws artistic practice provides inspiration.

so, that's the observation (iii) on landscape.

her lake piece may prove a good walking companion for this.

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