A monument can be an artwork, but it doesn’t have to be. It has to perpetuate memory and have a commemorative function. It’s everything from a marker in the ground to the triumphal arch in Washington Square Park.
But how now, Ishmael? How is it, that you, a mere oarsman in the fishery, pretend to know aught about the subterranean parts of a whale? … A veritable witness have you hitherto been, Ishmael; but have a care how you seize the privilege of Jonah alone.
Since tubes of paint used by the artist are manufactured and readymade products, we must conclude that all the paintings in the world are ‘Readymade Aided’ and also the works of assemblage.
[Robert Rauschenberg] has been adamant connections between elements in most of his work were aleatory, stressing that the magic in his work was the ability to turn familiar objects into mysterious ones through juxtaposition.
— Laura Hoptman, “Going to Pieces in the 21st Century” from Unmonumental, 2007
Most of what you probably believe about the role of the artist in society comes straight from the pen of Symbolist poet and critic Stéphane Mallarmé and his cohort: Verlaine, Rilke, Rimbaud, Yeats, and others. It goes something like this: the artist is the unique visionary whose insight into the world is so powerful, so inherently salutary, that the artwork needs no justification outside of itself. Its only obligation is to its own internally created reality. And that work of art, when out among people, must necessarily enlighten anyone who would trouble to probe its self-referential obscurities. The myth of the artist as the high priest of the dark, creative demiurge is so airtight in Western culture that any artist who behaves differently risks being accused of not being an artist at all.
When you teach at a university, as you know, there are the big three—research, service, and teaching. Research is something that can be confusing because typically we think of it as your exhibition record or the papers you’ve published, and that’s certainly the product. … So, then, what is research? There’s this period of not exactly knowing where it’s going, allowing a certain amount of chance, a certain amount of openness and letting yourself to go into a territory that is a little bit unknown.
For the last couple of generations, traditional architecture and modern architecture in the city have been set on opposite sides of a firm divide. Not for nothing did Tom Wolfe portray Charlie Croker as living in an old mansion in Buckhead while making his money as a builder of glass office towers along the interstate. Wolfe had it exactly right. In Atlanta, that’s what you do once you hit a certain demographic category. Classical architecture is what you live in, and modern architecture is what you work in. The number of modern houses of significant quality in Atlanta is very small. Atlantans want to live in Philip Trammell Shutze houses, but they expect to go to work in John Portman towers.
The experimental artist today is the un-artist. Not the antiartist but the artist emptied of art. The un-artist, as the name implies, started out conventionally, as a modernist, but as a certain point around the fifties began to divesting her or his work of nearly every feature that could remind anyone of art at all. The un-artist makes no real art but does what I’ve called lifelike art, art that reminds us mainly of the rest of our lives.
To remove the work is to destroy the work.
I think most work comes out of work and out of perception of work.
My goal is always to create something exceptional that enhances cities and enriches the lives of the people who live and work in them.
Powhida enlisted the assistance of other artists and fabricators to produce works that embody the worst art market tropes, such as the shiny object, the cool minimalist tower, and the incredibly bad painting of a skull. Alongside each piece he has added his signature touch: a trompe l’oeil painting of a hand-written note that details the process, budget and reasoning behind each work, with plenty of smart aleck-y remarks stuffed in between.
In the twenty-first century, we must learn to look at cities not as skylines but as brandscapes and at buildings not as objects but as advertisements and destinations. In the experience economy, experience itself has become the product: we’re no longer consuming objects but sensations, even lifestyles. In the new environment of brandscapes, buildings are not about where we work and live but who we imagine ourselves to be.