After visiting the plastic bag gallery I can only wish the participant photographers picked the bags up and got rid of it afterward. Some are to the point but in most cases I would have hoped they did it already before making the image. In general I would call a plastic bag in a street a piece of rubbish to be dumped in a litter box. Does anybody agree? We can all start a discussion about this. Just that Duchamp redefined art a hundred years ago does not mean to follow him as sheep or copy him in a brainless way. How permanent should a ready made be to be ready to be a sculpture in urban surroundings, for instance. And what in the case of time based art or performance?
I would like to show a relatively permanent and temporary example of sculptures i encountered in Bergen which both fit the title according to my (yes, negotiable) rules. The blue fence which is the outside wall of a car park does not get this definition if it would have had another color than this blue though. The pile of snow is in front of Bergenhallen in Sletten. It is more permanent than one might think: this photo is made on a warm September day. Actually last summer young artist Sveinung R Unneland remade a similar piece of snow in public space for Tempo Skien 08. (go to site, click artist – unneland – top photo). It was the first (or only?) object to be destroyed by passersby.
I have just recently (belatedly) discovered this on the website of The Photographers' Gallery, London - a whole series of images of plastic bags in all kinds of locations. Plastic bags are an interesting combination of instability and semi-permanence; they are flimsy, unstable, usually unsuited to their primary purpose, and yet made of a material that persists and accumulates. And we encounter them everywhere, they almost become a kind of architectural language. Here are two from my own collection, seen in the streets of Bergen.
A recent post on the blog "Ballardian" is recommended reading. The author was interested in determining the location of JG Ballard's concrete island, from the novel of the same name. Using descriptions from the novel as a guide, he makes a convincing argument for the location being an area of waste ground under the Westway intersection, between Latimer Road and White City in West London. The article also brings together maps old and new, archive images, news stories and historical accounts of the neighbourhood that was erased to make way for the Westway, the elevated motorway that cuts through the Notting Hill/ Ladbroke Grove area and that had a special significance during the punk era, especially in songs by The Clash. In 2000, dj & film director Don Letts made the documentary "Westway to The World", a retrospective appraisal of The Clash.
Saturday morning, walking from home in Møhlenpris across the centre of town towards the railway station I noticed a whole series of lost/rejected articles in strange and somehow significant configurations. Here are two "found" installations that seem to activate the space they occupy and suggest a kind of dialogue between the objects.
It's Piksel time again in Bergen - the annual festival for open-source software-based art and related activities. There were several openings on Thursday evening at various venues including USF and Lydgalleriet. At the latter venue, the group Loud Objects gave a short performance that involved "live soldering" of circuits, oscillators and small loudspeakers placed on an overhead projector. I am fairly sure that this is the first time that I have witnessed "performative soldering".... Afterwards at Landmark, The Icelandic Love Corporation presented a programme of short videos by artists from Iceland. A very mixed bag quality wise, but it was a nice event anyway.
It is December again, the days are cold and short but also dry, and I have been wandering the streets of Bergen today with my girl and youngest son collecting empty plastic bottles, our contribution to a better planet, which made us 23 NOK! While we were walking we were talking the baby sleeping and Hilde asked me: Look at those green overgrown stairs up to the house for elderly people and nobody seems to have taken the path for ages, would you call that an urban readymade, Ronnie? Uncertain I quickly answered: Definitely not! But are not all objects readymades the moment I classify them as such in all consious subjectivity? And that again made me think if these disposed street bottles with 1 NOK refund are maybe temporary readymades in the sense that they are especially thrown away for us to be found and noticed and cashed to consider them as ... or buy a...
Did it not all start for Marcel Duchamp with the fact that he fixed a wheel upside down on a chair in his atelier out of boredom? To give it a push once in a while to see and hear the optical illusions by looking through the turning spokes while he was stuck creating a painting? I do not think his first intention was to put it into an exhibition for the sake of it anyway but eventually more a punk statement after the discussion (confusion?) he provoked with his actual paintings at that time not being clearly futurist or cubist but instead a mixture of both. After all purism and fundamentalism are of all human sorts and seasons.
I am not sure if you know but at one of the readymade sites you can actually order by post little plastic signs with the following text: Urban Ready Made – Location – Artist – Date – the Bernini Foundation – website address. Idea is that you can hang it near the classified object and so take it of it's anonimity and loudly pronounce it is a piece of art. I have two of them at home and lying around waiting for my ego to choose sides.
It is December again for all of us and while walking through Sletten and Slettebakken, excuse me for my language but those names make Dutch people actually smile or some even laugh or upset (ha, first I wrote: blush!) any time of the year, I also begin again and can not escape to notice the expanding amount of decorations installed behind practically half of every home window. Repetitive endless Bethlehem stars and plastic candle stairs giving insufficient light to the cold slippery dark streets of the hottest town districts. I do not know about other passersby but they do not give me any extra warmth. I immediately picture in my head a special KIWI 1000 supermarket offer: Readymade Holy Coziness for only 49 NOK! Which means we are almost halfway in getting it ourselves soon, aren't we, my son.
And then look at the trees in their now half dead or sleepy front gardens... Not only the pine but any urban bush available is forced to participate by being cruelly electrified in chains of light. Suddenly those actually hardly ever looked upon sad bushes are uprated to real Manifests of seasonal Beauty. Could they be called, in the spirit of the bottles, December URM's ? Are they not temporary artworks and masterpieces? Or does this only occur when some person or me starts to collect them in an artistic series of photographs, giving it a sophisticated or unexplainable title and exhibiting it in a gallery for the selected few, preferably in an exotic other country? I guess the answer is 'no they are not either way' but how can I be sure. The first time I came upon the term urban readymades I liked it too, I do admit. It kind of suited the odd objects or circumstances I once in a while encounter in the streets. Those sometimes humorous city sculptures which seem to be left by time or neglect, stupidity and ignorance and make me stop for a while and (re) consider other things as important. My girl got me on an overgrown footpath and so I am more than willing to follow Jeremy's quest to search for another suitable term if a term is actually needed. So, what about VULFA? Very Urban Lost & Found Art! Or am I too unstable urban now?
I wanted to include an image I photographed of the timbered pinetree the landlord of the estate I live on so kindly forced into my view when I smoke my cigarette on the balcony while having a break from writing this contribution at the kitchen table of our still starless house but decided not to because i do not want to see a christmastree while i visit this site.