Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Flarf sculpture?

I’ve been trying to think of a term to describe the recent trend in sculpture featuring seemingly random, non sequitur assemblages made from repurposed industrial materials (industrial foam is a favorite) and junk, often with the parts retaining their original identities.

It’s the sort of stuff featured in Scottish artist Jim Lambie’s untitled installation at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (pictured here). And Jessalyn Haggenjos’ work at Boston’s Rhys Gallery in November and December. And Providence artist Dean Snyder’s show at Providence’s Wheeler Gallery last spring. And the “Unmonumental” exhibit at New York’s New Museum through March 30.

The New Museum aptly (at least according to the catalogue; I’ve not seen the show) describes its show – and this sort of sculpture – as
fragmented forms, torn pictures and clashing sounds. Investigating the nature of collage in contemporary art practices, “Unmonumental” also describes the present as an age of crumbling symbols and broken icons.
As I wrote of this type of sculpture in my review of Lambie’s MFA installation (he’s included in “Unmonumental” as well):
There are clear antecedents in dada and Robert Rauschenberg. And it has echoes of sampling in music. But what this new process most resembles is a style of poetry that’s developed in the past decade or so: flarf. A goofy non sequitur avant-garde poetry that favors typos and other ways of being “wrong,” flarf is often built from collaged Google search results and Internet chat-room texts (and so distills something elemental of our era). The technique is sometimes called “Google sculpting.”
That might be an apt description of this sort of actual sculpture as well.

(Thanks to my poet pal James Cook for pointing me in this direction.)


“RSVPmfa: Jim Lambie,” Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave, Boston, November 2007 to May 25, 2008.

Pictured: Jim Lambie’s MFA installation.


Blogger Unknown said...

I've been calling this stuff "scattertrash" for a few years now....

January 23, 2008 at 10:10 AM  

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