Sunday, July 6, 2008

just thinking about alchemy.

The best part about art is the fact that you can produce alchemy, meaning specifically to make something out of nothing. Besides the fact that art is just that (alchemy), with its use of materiality, the fact that a piece of a paper and a pencil can produce a piece worth millions of dollars and an idea that becomes a sign of genius is what makes art one of the last great modes of expression left on this planet. And i suppose, in particular, one artist who uses this idea really well is Tom Friedman. The fact that he does just that, makes something out of nothing, but the 'nothing' being specifically the typical 'nothingness' of household/mundane materials is what makes him fantastic. And sure, we can say, "oh i can do that, it's just eraser shavings." but we can't do it like he does. His approach to Minimalism and conceptual art is unlike anyone's and that specific sort of love that exists in his work holds a charm and touch that no one else can own. Which is why he is that awesome. So yeah, this blog post is for him, Mr. Tom Friedman:


Toothpicks.

Suicide. (construction paper)


chewing gum rolled into a perfect sphere and stuck in the corner of the gallery space.


aluminum foil rocker.

spider. (human hair)

eraser shavings.

Hot Balls (balls stolen by the artist over 6 month period)

two pieces of paper crumpled identically.

and this last one might be one of my favorite ones, even though it looks like "nothing":


"1000 Hours Of Staring." (a piece of paper the artist stared at for 1000 hours over a 5 year period.)

So alot of people want to say "that's stupid" with this last piece. And sure, it might be, depending on who you are, but for art lovers, it's about something else. It's about believing in the piece. So much about art and it's ideas is about how much you believe the piece is a good piece. It's a sort of substitute for religion, in a sense. To believe that Tom Friedman possibly sat around in his home staring at a piece of paper for 1000 hours is pretty fantastic. You always wonder, "i wonder what he was wearing when he stared at it at the 15th hour, and the 900th hour?", at least that's what i was thinking. And sure, he probably didn't stare at it for 1000 hours, but who cares? It's about the idea. And the fact that this piece sold for (i believe) $11,000 is pretty fantastic as well. I mean, in that sense, it's also a critique or parody on the art world on some level. Regardless, it does what the power of art is all about: making you think. And i guess with the way everything is, maybe this caters to suggest a different way of living? One where we stop being so mindless, consumed, and lost (so to say) in the current state of things, and maybe just stop and really think about what we're really doing.

- Alchemy all day!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

okay everything was cool up until the whole blank piece of paper...to call that "ART" is definitely a stretch, and to put it bluntly, utterly ridiculous...sure, art is all left up to interpretation, but in this case a blank piece of paper has nothing to show for...and for it to have sold for that much, i'm ashamed for you for letting the artist swindle you just as badly as the person that bought that blank sheet

middleclass said...

art is about questioning something. warhol was the master at making something that challenging which took on many different levels of so-called "ridiculousness", with his 24 hour films and videos of him just eating food. His 1000 hours of staring is just as good as an example of a piece of art that might be considered stupid to all, and you might think it has "nothing to show for", but what is art supposed to show? it's not even about something "looking good" anymore, and sure, skill/technique/decor and things that look good can always 'swindle' someone to thinking it's good art, but what's a good piece of art without a good idea. and the funniest part about "1000 hours of staring" is the fact that if you saw it in person, at the opening, you had a bunch of rich folks come up to the piece, with their hands behind their backs, closely examining the piece as if there was something there to examine and all you would think was "suckers", which to me was pretty fantastic. there's nothing better than having that power, and i'm pretty sure Tom was completely laughing about it, all the way to the bank. Which, my anonymous friend, is something totally worth thinking about.

Remember, art is nothing without an idea, because anyone can do an abstract painting, or a minimalist sculpture, or a drawing of whomever, it's about the idea behind it that makes it great.

Tom Friedman por vida!