Next Saturday, June 3rd, 3PM at Wisdom House Chapel, Litchfield, CT we will host an artist’s walkaround through the Transfourming Sorrow installation. Kardash Onnig will discuss the inspiration for this multi-sensory installation as well as take questions from attendees. A lively discussion will be guaranteed and the public is invited to attend.
The Wisdom House link is below with all of the details of the event.
Also tomorrow morning at 10:30 there will be a television segment on the installation and the link for live streaming is also below.
I must admit that through the years of owning a gallery I always got energized when I would install a piece in some space that was accessible to the public. I never paid much attention to my feelings about it until I began to see the gallery installations [exhibits] in the same light. I would take various elements and assemble them into a unified whole that became a greater work of art. I then anticipated the public to come in and experience what I had put together and for me this is where the magic exists. Unconsciously it was a form of public art to me. I have claimed that I can take any object and make it look like a valuable work of art and I hold that conviction. I know it’s true. Give me exceptional work and the ingredients are there for something special. Give me a great space and we now have extraordinary.
Back when the ‘Gates’ project was being planned for Central Park I went to visit Christo and Jean Claude. I loved his drawings, collages and was interested in exhibiting them in the gallery so I ventured to SOHO not knowing what to expect or what would be expected of me. It was an eye opening experience for me that at the time had no idea how it would become a reference point for what I was really interested in which was transforming spaces with art. In other words installation combined with place.
Jean Claude quickly indoctrinated me into how the whole process worked. She was ordering Christo around like an indentured servant to which we thought was humorous. ‘Christo go get the such and such and show them that piece!’ ‘As he comes back with it she quips’ I was thinking about the other one, go get that one and leave this one here for now.’ Christo’s comment was ‘I am just a studio hand as you can see’ with a big smile on his face.
When it got down to business it was a completely different way of dealing art than I had been familiar with and they were the masters of it. A little background on the‘Gates’ project first. They did a nice book on the Gates which they had given me that documented it beginning to end. It was first proposed as a public installation in the 1970’s, 25 years earlier. It never got anywhere because of many things but there were public meetings and it became an idea that was proposed and waiting. Eventually it was approved and executed as envisioned as we all now know.
When we were there they talked about the complexities of doing something like this but one critical element was maintaining artistic independence. They would accept no corporate or governmental support. They felt this would influence the integrity of the installation and that was central to their mission as artists. So I found their funding process very interesting. Christo would begin doing preliminary work depicting an unrealized project somewhere in the world. Over a period of time as they were gaining all of the approvals and getting the project finalized he would then end all work related to this specific project. The pieces that were completed in the early stages you would be able to acquire for very reasonable prices in the early stages of the proposal. As the pieces were coming to an end and the project was ready to be realized those prices would be quite substantial as there would be no more once the project happened.
They created a mechanism to self fund, maintain creative independence, meet all safety requirements and support their projects fully with the necessary crew. In the case of the Gates you could apply to be part of the team and they would pay an above minimum wage to compensate everyone. I found it all ingenious and a different way of making art work at a high level. So here I find myself unconsciously interested in a similar artform, transforming non- traditional places with compelling ideas and works. While I have installed work in public spaces the Wisdom House event encapsulates the idea of sharing pure creativity and place. On one hand it is an experiment in creativity. In my mind it takes art out of a predictable context, being the gallery or studio. and then does two things. It organizes itself as a whole then combines with the spirit of place. The implied meaning of the space with the placement of multiple artistic elements is the potential magic. Just like Christo has done but different. There is precedent for a Wisdom House event but it must also be different. I love the feeling of being on the edge. Will it crash and burn or will it be a moving and memorable occurrence as it is meant to be. Art with risk. What more can we do as artists to make magic happen? Please check the links below to keep connected to the project and please share on Facebook or where ever you have a strong presence.
Wisdom House Details
On May 20th, Transfourming Sorrow , a multi sensory installation by artist Kardash Onnig, will open in the Chapel at Wisdom House, a Retreat Center in Litchfield, Connecticut. I have organized and curated this event joining a very special place with a very special art experience.This will be the largest undertaking I have attempted and we are hoping to maximize this opportunity and message by planning a documentary , publication as well as other support events. Because of these plans we have undertaken a GoFundMe campaign that we hope you will get behind and support to enable the projects we would like to complete surrounding this event. This will be a unique experience where art will be seen in its purest form transforming a non- traditional space into a memorable experience. Please spread the word and post the link to the gofundme campaign on your facebook pages or wherever you are connected to help bring a wider visibility and awareness to what will be occurring and this event.
I have also included a link to the Wisdom House page for more information on Transfourming Sorrow.We will update as we near the opening.
Wisdom House site
Last Saturday I undertook the challenge of installing an exhibit in 4 hours in front of a group of people who were both participating as well as observing. I am not sure if this has ever been done before but in its aftermath I believe demonstrated the power of arrangement and presentation.To me it was performance art. Many elements comprising a greater work of art, the exhibit itself. The process was available to see and experience for those who were there.Art in and of itself can be presented in such a way as to add value or to devalue it from a singular and as a larger whole perspective. As artists we must always complete each work to its intended presentation state whatever that might be. By not paying attention to this part of the art making process we devalue ourselves especially when others you are showing with have resolved this part of their work.
The image above is where we started. A group of apparent disparate work waiting to be assembled in its highest form as an exhibit. Presentation cannot be under estimated. A painting when finished must now be presented or it is incomplete. This applies to all mediums that we use. Upon acquisition the work then surrenders itself to the placement and place it will be installed. When all of these elements align we have the potential for magic. Art in its highest and most valuable form is something we all should want.
In my mind a work of art is comprised of 3 elements. The first is idea or concept. The second is expression. The material manifestation of the idea aligned with our personality and ability. Third is presentation. How is this work shown and then presented to the public whether the public is your own house or a museum. A work is incomplete if all three are not addressed.When an artist gets these right opportunity is created and we stay out of our own way.The takeaway is that there are practical measures we can take to get the most out of what we do and understanding all three elements intimately is critical to success and fulfillment of purpose. At worse I would suggest to begin to think about how your work will be perceived when shared with the public. What can you do to give your piece justice in the sea of other works that will be seen side by side with yours?
On Saturday, February 25, I will be doing an unusual event where, as a form of performance art, I will be installing an actual exhibition in front of a group of participating artists and anyone who has an interest in the art of arranging and installation. As a gallery owner and curator I became acutely aware that the aspect of presentation is an art in itself. The experience that is created, in a given space, is critical to highlighting the best features of the work shown while minimizing the weakest parts. The installation as a whole becomes a greater work of art in which all of the components contribute and have their place.
Awareness that a greater work of art is being created with a combination of individual pieces, the creator gives adequate focus to each work while allowing for a deliberate flow or ‘journey’ through the ‘experience’. I use the word ‘experience’ instead of exhibit because ultimately the goal of a curator is to create an experience that will be taken away and thought about by the viewer well after they have left the physical place. They say we know a great work of art when it remains with you after you have left it. The same holds true for an art event.
I conceived the idea of doing this event after seeing a minimalization of the importance of presentation from the level of artist to the gallery more times than we would expect. But when one becomes aware of how to present an individual piece as well as a combination or body of work we add a powerful tool in our ability to communicate and create an interaction that is compelling. To my knowledge this kind of event might be a first and for sure a first for me. I have always installed my shows in solitude and rarely with anyone seeing it in process only the finished result. My hope is that the magic that occurs in the gallery setting will also appear in this performance and those who come leave with a respect and insight for this process. The link for the event is below.
Invitation to a Hanging Link