The above installation by Sándor Pinczehelyi at Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art in Budapest, Hungary got me thinking about other mounds of rocks in art museums… each petrous stack is deceptively simple at first glance but given a little thought, soon unfolds the intended message from the artist.
Carl Andre – ‘Equivalent VIII’
We all know this one… that stack of plain yellow bricks at Tate Modern that they paid thousands of pounds for in 1972. Some people hate it, some think it’s a brilliant tribute to Minimalism of the 60s in the move towards Post-Modernism, while Andre himself said it’s about giving the viewer a feeling of “wading in bricks…stepping from water of one depth to water of another depth”. I’m not convinced; saying a stack of bricks is art doesn’t necessarily make it art. However, instigating controversy is sometimes what art is all about (and boy-howdy did this one ever start a fire!)
Carwyn Evans – ‘Unlliw [Feather]’
This one uses 6,500 cardboard bird boxes to illustrate the Ceredigion County Council housing policy to build the same number of new houses in Evans’ home county. “Because there were no restrictions on the new housing”, Evans asks, “is it [the number of new houses] for the local population or to entice a new population” to the heartland of Wales. Evans centres his debate around the impending change due to such government policies, to culture and landscape, as well as the heritage of Welsh language (by encouraging non-Welsh speakers to the heartland of Wales). As a statement, this one definitely works, especially if the viewer knows about the housing policy. If the viewer doesn’t know, this installation in the middle of a fine art museum certainly would provoke questions.
Sándor Pinczehelyi – ‘The Cobblestone is the Weapon of the Proletariat’
Pinczehelyi continually utilises well-known symbols of the international workers’ movement (the star, hammer, sickle and cobblestone) to define his “…personal position within the historical and cultural reality of Central and Eastern Europe”. In his well-known cobblestone piece (header image of this post), one must get closer to read on each stone the words “The Weapon of the Proletariat” written in English, French and Italian. With deep historical and political reference, this work could be be read in a number of ways, e.g., about either the suffering of the labour force (downtrodden by The Man) or violence by the workers (throwing stones in protest of their rights) and so on. And the work is still relevant today with the 99%/1% and Occupy movements, as poverty continues to crush much of the world’s population.
Ozioma Onuzulike – ‘Genocide’
Probably don’t have to read the title to get what this installation of flesh-coloured lumps of ceramic is about, made by Nigerian ceramics artist Ozioma Onuzulike. For him, war and conflict around the globe directly relates “to the ceramic processes of firing, burning and roasting…making social commentaries [about] the dehumanization of the human being through global events of armed conflict, natural disasters, genocide…” More than a little bit unsetlling, it’s definitely not just a pile of rocks…
unknown artist – pile of burnt bread loaves at RCA 2012 degree show
The artist and title of this work is unknown, seen at RCA 2012 degree show from 20 June – 1 July 2012. Despite the lack of information, it’s a mildly interesting pile of boodle, somewhat reminiscent of Pinczehelyi’s cobblestones? I’m guessing it’s about capitalism or even the excess of waste coming out Britain’s kitchens (amounting to 7 million tonnes every year according to website, Love Food Hate Waste).
Hause of Krause – untitled (symmetrical heap of stones and gravel)
This one by builder Nikolas Krause in Vancouver, Canada demonstrates that satisfying symmetry can be achieved with patience, clear vision, and a load of leftover rubble. Krause writes about himself, “An uncrafty bugger stuck in this world, slightly at odds with everything. My interests are born out of an effort to not become jaded at life, beauty and humans in general”. I hope he continues to find time outside of the day job to do things like this, especially if he did it on the sly, he’d be like the Banksy of bricks.
Lara Almarcegui – installation in the Spanish Pavilion – Venice Biennale 2013
Almarcegui leaves heaps of raw building materials in the pristine white gallery as a comment on “…state of the art contemporary society and its capitalistic economy.”, as she tries to show “…the boundaries between human decay and regeneration, and offers exhibition projects that make visible that which escapes attention…”. Admittedly, after looking at Ozioma’s or Evans’ work, even over several rooms, this installation fails to make much of an impact. And in person, it looks just like what it is: piles of bricks, wood shavings, shards of glass and rocks.
More links and information
- Carwyn Evans – Unlliw at National Museum of Art Cardiff , 5:03 mins – Artist Carwyn Evans and Mike Tooby, Director of Learning Programmes, National Museum of Art, Cardiff talk about Evans’ work in the museum.
- Carl Andre’s ‘Equivalent VIII’ at Tate Modern
- P Sandor ‘The cobblestone is the weapon of the proletariat’
- Ozioma Onuzulike – Genocide – Nigerian ceramics artist
- A pile of burnt bread loaves (not bricks) at RCA2012 show
- Hause of Krause – blog by carpenter Nikolas Krause
- Lara Almarcegui – Spanish Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2013