Saturday, November 21, 2009

At long last! We have an artist statement! AND a title for the series.

[Bank artists' collective writes in the margins of press releases which they send back to the galleries who sent them stamped with the “Bank Fax-Bak Service – Helping You Help Yourselves!” logo. They give marks out of ten for pompousness.]

3 weeks, 6 earthworks, 1 portable studio, & ALL that lies in between
Jacinda Russell & Nancy Douthey

We spent three weeks in the summer of 2009 in a rented SUV driving across the American West creating art in response to six famous earthworks: Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty and Amarillo Ramp, Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels, Michael Heizer’s Double Negative, James Turrell’s Roden Crater, and Walter De Maria’s Lightning Field. This pilgrimage also featured an investigation of the “in between”: Wayne Thiebaud meets Ed Ruscha in the form of floating fake desserts in enticing swimming pools, a performance at the Chinati Foundation with a stuffed blue bear, cleaning the Sky Walk at the Grand Canyon, and conversation maps that record how we truly arrived at our destinations not just the terrain.

3 Weeks… is not an historical or theoretical investigation. Instead we are creating ephemeral responses to artwork that is in some ways very destructive to nature. We are interested in time – how we became more aware of how time looks and how time passes by the sheer amount of hours we spent at each piece in isolation or watched by a solitary observer. We are interested in humor as it is far easier to talk about these artworks in a contemporary context because their status is so serious in the canon of art history. Humor is one way we enter into these works when we want to make serious commentary rather than being confrontational. It is our way of discussing the political and often difficult issues associated with them: gender, economic elitism, destruction and permanence of the land.

Nancy Douthey brings a feminist approach to a predominantly masculine genre of art when using props like bright pink prom dresses, cans of peaches, and blue tulle in her performances. The act of repair is clearly feminine when she takes on the role of Michael Heizer filling the tire tracks in the center of Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels. Jacinda Russell comments on loss and renewal in The Burial of Three People, Two Places, and One Time Period when she inters objects from her past at each location.

The sites are also expensive to visit and some are inaccessible to the general public. Visiting them is often exclusively reserved for a certain economic class. This is exemplified in the performance We Got the Time and the Goods and are Happy to Write You a Check. Paying Our Way into Lightning Field, Quemado, New Mexico. Our use of technology through the blog In Search of the Center and the twitter account str8tripnn were primarily created to make these artworks more attainable for a general audience that extended beyond outdated photographs in art history books.

This collaboration is also about the journey – getting lost along the Mormon Mesa while attempting to find Double Negative, relying on others to take us to the artworks, and the people we encounter along the way. This does not occur while viewing artwork in the traditional “white cube.”

The photographs, performances, and video are just the first chapter. Artists’ books, drawings, and sculptural objects will soon follow.

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