I’m interested in the differences and similarities between three artists who mock the art world and esthetics their mischievous relationship to high culture and I’m interested in the simplicity of form in their work and their straightforward modes of presentation.
Hans Peter Feldmann- dumbfounding and profound wit, paper light, loaded with meaning, or no meaning.
“A single image can be completely mistaken. For this very reason he never makes individual pictures but always series. His series aim at the mean value. And some pictures within a series that are, in a sense, too good, are then being sorted out, since he regards aesthetics to be a thing for other professions and other times.”
The bone-dry wit of the subjects he categorically chooses to document and hang on the wall is mixed with the lingering feeling that it’s not that easy, what feels so light is about something much heavier. Some of his documentation becomes evidence, it’s hard to make polaroids of a selection of clothing without it feeling heavy, as in all the clothes of a woman, an obviously edited collection of female clothing.
In one project Mike Kelley looks at old paintings he did in art-school and repaints them in the same painterly way, as a way to force himself to go back there. The saved paintings works as an archive of his history that he uses to make work about development, memory and the institutionalization of education and art.
ART:21: Explain the concept behind your project “Day is Done.”
KELLEY: “Day is Done” is built around the mythos that relates to “Educational Complex” and the history of a kind of symbolist attempt at uniting all the arts. “Educational Complex” is a model of every school I ever went to, plus the home I grew up in, with all the parts I can’t remember left blank. They’re all combined into a new kind of structure that looks like a kind of modernist building. I started to think about this structure through the Gesamtenswerk, the ‘total artwork’, of Rudolf Steiner, where he tries to combine all the arts and develop a kind of rule system according to which every art form is related. So the architectural relates to the dance relates to the music relates to the writing. But it’s also a kind of religion. And so my religion for this structure is repressed memory syndrome. The idea is that anything you can’t remember, that you forget or block out, is the byproduct of abuse and that all of these scenarios are supposed to be filling in the missing action in these blank sections in this building. It’s a perverse reading of [Hans Hoffman’s] push-pull theory. (cont.)
ART:21: It’s almost like working as an anthropologist.
KELLEY: Yes, I think of it very much that way.
“I’m an avant-gardist. We’re living in the postmodern age, the death of the avant-garde. So all I can really do now is work with this dominant culture and flay it, rip it apart, reconfigure it, expose it.”
In his preliminary years, Boltanski painted in an autodidactic way, concerned primarily with themes of historical significance. However, by the 1970’s, (26 years old 1970) Boltanski removed himself from the painting arena and began his quest for remnants of his own past through selected artworks. These artworks led Boltanski to question the substance he had used when creating his own artworks. However, this introspectivism supplied him with the motive for other artworks in which non-truths and the realisation of fundamental truths converged. Boltanski reconstructed his own youth in this method.
Having been born in France post-Holocaust, Boltanski had a challenging childhood since he had a Jewish father. In his early work, he would often invent his own childhood and history using other people’s photographs. He would purposely choose photos that could be anybody and would often use many of them together to further implicate anonymity of the figures. This furthered the universality of his work.
‘Something like 60 per cent of my work is destroyed after every show. And if it’s not destroyed, it’s removed, or I’ll mix one piece with another. When I make a show it’s like when you arrive at home and you open your fridge at night and there’s two potatoes and one sausage and two eggs, and with all that you make something to eat. I try to make something with what is in my “fridge”.’
‘One of the beauties of my life is that I never work. I’m lazy and I have no other way to work. I teach this to my students: you must wait and hope – there’s nothing else you can do. And when you have an idea, you can do it in ten minutes.’
His artistic work is haunted by the problems of death, memory and loss; he often seeks to memorialize the anonymous and those who have disappeared.