“going further back from the overhead opening there is a wall surrounding the court with a door in each side. behind that wall is a passage which circles the courtyard. in the innermost wall of the passage slot-like windows look into a dark area of undetermined size which is obviously open. the viewer becomes aware that the ground s/he has just walked across and presumed to be solid is undermined.” – mary miss
27/07/2012 § Leave a comment
mary miss, perimeters/pavilions/decoys (1978)
toward the center of the field there is a slight mound, a swelling in the earth, which is the only warning given for the presence of the work. closer to it, the large square face of the pit can be seen, as can the ends of the ladder that is needed to descend into the excavation. the work itself is thus entirely below grade: half atrium, half tunnel, the boundary between outside and in, a delicate structure of wooden posts and beams. the work, perimeters/pavilions/decoys (1978) by mary miss, is of course a sculpture or, more precisely, an earthwork.
over the last ten years [essay published in 1979] rather surprising things have come to be called sculpture: narrow corridors with tv monitors at the end; large photographs documenting country hikes; mirrors placed at strange angles in ordinary rooms; temporary lines cut into the floor of the desert. nothing, it would seems, could possibly give to such a motley of effort the right to lay claim to whatever one might mean by the category of sculpture. unless, that is the category can be made to become almost infinitely malleable.
the critical operations that have accompanied post-war american art have largely worked in the service of this manipulation. in the hands of this criticism, categories like sculpture and painting have been kneaded and stretched and twisted in an extraordinary demonstration of elasticity, a display of the way a cultural term can be extended to include just about anything. and though this pulling and stretching of a term such as sculpture is overtly performed in the name of vanguard aesthetics – the ideology of the new – its covert message is that of historicism. the new is made comfortable by being made familiar, since it is seen as having gradually evolved from the forms of the past. historicism works on the new and different to diminish newness and mitigate difference. it makes a place for change in our experience by evoking the model of evolution, so that the man who now is can be accepted as being different from the child he once was, by simultaneously being seen – through the unseeable action of the telos – as the same. and we are comforted b this perception of sameness, this strategy for reducing anything foreign in either time or space, to what we already know and are.
no sooner had minimal sculpture appeared on the horizon of the aesthetic experience of the 1960s, than criticism began to construct a paternity for this work, a set of constructivist fathers who could legitimize and thereby authenticate the strangeness of these objects. plastic? inert geometries? factory production? – none of this was really strange, as the ghosts of gabo and tatlin and lissitzky could be called in to testify. never mind that the content of the one had nothing to do with, was in fact the exact opposite of, the content of the other. never mind that gabo’s celluloid was the sign of lucidity and intellection, while judd’s plastic-tinged-with-dayglow spoke the hip patois of california. it did not matter that constructivist forms were innteded as visual proof of the immutable logic and coherence of universal geometries, while their seeming counterparts in minimalism were demonstrably contingent – denoting a universe held together not by mind but by guy wires, or glue, or the accidents of gravity. the rage to historicize simply swept these differences aside.
– scuplture in the expanded field by rosalind krauss [text]
people of minneapolis (and the upper mid-west in general): drop everything and go to the walker art center right now. rolu’s residency at the walker’s open field comes to a close this weekend. go check out their expanding field of projects.
a young hare
[title] today’s title comes from mary miss’ perimeters/pavilions/decoys project description available on her website. check out this amazing project and others!
[image] while you can find today’s image and others from the perimeters/pavilions/decoys on mary miss’ website i originally came across this project from the tumblr et après ça, la ville.
[text] Krauss, Rosalind. “Sculpture in the Expanded Field.” On Landscape Urbanism. Ed. Dean Almy. Austin, TX: Center for American Architecture and Design, University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture, 2007. 34-35. Print.
[more historical loops] this essay brings to mind an older ayh post asking the question: were we ever modern?