Friday, March 30, 2012

The process of making can inform the content. For example, if we filled a room with 1000 similar bowls from the Pottery Barn, the work might be about consumerism and the choices we have as consumers. But, if we make 1000 similar (or ideally identical) bowls in an art school studio (rather than a factory), what does that mean? It seems to question the hierarchy of authorship over team work, labor, and production. (It brings to mind the lyrics of "Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes.") Regardless, it feels good to participate in this project!


  1. Today in the studio we discussed the making, we are all feeling the hard work of the self-imposed deadline of the work. We are all contributing. I think we are all optimistic.
    Is this enough, the question of why make is a final destination in one weeks time. :We" will only feel the "good". I am concerned with the external too. What do others see when we are gone from the space, when the work is alone? Of course the context is very well observed we are in an art school not a Museum, not a factory and not a shop.
    What is seen when we are gone?

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  3. In our context the viewer will know we made the bowls, because we have told them. In fact, many of our viewers have seen us making as a performance component of this installation. A good viewer will ask why we made 1000 of these bowls... many passersby already have. And, they will probably understand there is a question of authorship wrapped up in the work. However, what if we did not tell the viewer we made the bowls? What if the viewer sees the work in the room on its own?

    Then much depends on how the bowls are displayed. If they are stacked high, inside of one another, I wonder if it would even be obvious that the bowls were made outside of a factory; that they were not bought at the local Pottery Barn. The bowl is, as Clare said, honest. It is not a decorative object, demanding attention. It is the type of bowl that can hold something. It is simple, concave, with a clear glaze over white clay. The maker is invisible in the bowl.

    However, if displayed in a way that allows the bowls to be inspected individually, many have warped rims from a rushed drying process and some have slip-drip marks inside. Each is slightly unique. In this case, the "made" qualities are not necessarily positive ones. We made honest bowls with subtle mistakes.

    Is the question, "why make?" or "why make a thousand in two weeks?" Many of the handmade objects I live with and love have qualities I have not found in factory made objects. Qualities that come from an artist's attempt to further her or his work because something important to that artist depends on it - pride, livelihood, communication, personal values, and so on. Quantity is sacrificed for quality. Decisions are made for reasons other than productivity, ease, or machine compatibility. I have never owned a factory made mug that had a wide/comfortable handle, a lip that did not dribble, and a surprise finger rest underneath bunny ear appliques.

    On the other hand, I have factory made plates and bowls that I love. They are light weight, they stack perfectly, the curve is just the right angle, and there is no wasted space around the rim. And, of course, they were relatively inexpensive. Perhaps it is good enough to embrace both sides.