The tagline for the current exhibition (running through June 30) at Murray Guy in New York reads: “Reclining, ambulating, balancing, reflecting, approaching and withdrawing, this exhibition brings together a group of objects that might propose the question: what is it like to be a thing?”
Half of the pieces in the group exhibition honor American artist Robert Breer (1926-2011). Particularly notable are his “floats”, sculptures made of Styrofoam, resin, or foil, that from a distance resemble more conventional metals or stones, and are powered by motors out of sight to the viewer. The simple forms move almost imperceptibly slowly across the floor of the exhibit space, until they are forced to change direction upon crashing into its confines, each other, and the other works. (Check out a YouTube clip from one of Breer’s earlier exhibitions here.)
The other artists in the exhibition seem to specialize in the animation and manipulation of everyday objects as well. Czech artist Jirí Kovanda plays with the position and interaction of familiar consumer materials in his work; such as a bag of candies suspended along a rope that extends from one room of the display to another, where a hammer is found suspended from the other end, or wooden sticks poking out from the holes of a cardboard box.
Photographer Mac Adams’ work is likewise provocative, taking common home decor items and juxtaposing them with scenes of violence. These metallic objects – a teapot, lamp, or kitchen tray – are photographed in front of a monochromatic studio backdrop and appear innocent enough until one sees the shooting or violent assault reflected by them; a jarring depiction of the experiences to which everyday objects become unwilling witnesses.
“Breath on Both Sides” by Roman Ondák consists of a red balloon inflated through a small hole cut in a gallery window panel, so that one end pokes through the interior, but the other basks in natural air; a statement on the interaction of objects with their surroundings and the context of shared spaces.
More information on the exhibition, which runs through June 30, and the participating artists can be viewed here.
See on murrayguy.com
In the spirit of thingness, check out this piece by Andrew Miller, originally published in LitCouture in 2010:
My Life Imitating Art
By A Toilet Seat
I didn’t ask for this.
It’s not like you wake up one morning and say, ‘Dammit, wouldn’t it be provocative if I hung myself on a white washed wall in some drafty warehouse looking gallery.’
I didn’t ask to be an ‘objecte d’arte.’
This is the fate that was thrust upon me by some hack. Some hack that went to art school, who somehow didn’t get jaded and is now trying to make a career out of it.
When I was young, I just wanted to be amiable, and make it real easy for people to shit on me.
I mean, look at me. If you excuse the context, you’ll realize there is no pretension about me. I’m not even a high-end toilet seat for crying out loud! I just want to be practical. Not gawked at in some makeshift art space with chic lighting and a Spartan sense of presentation.
Of course I see the way you people looking at me. Only one person has taken me seriously in the three weeks I’ve been slowly bleeding from this wall, and he was wearing a tinfoil jumpsuit, so there is not much consolation in his perspective.
I’m with you guys, the mindless masses; I’m just as mindless as anyone. Blue collar guy all the way. Not into bureaucracy, politics or the art world at all. I’d make fun of me too. My tastes are simple.
My dream life? Honestly I could spend the rest of my days affixed to some olive green poly-porcelain throne in an olive linoleumed, fake wood paneled bathroom, in an unrennovated suburban duplex in Schenectady for all I care. And, you can even wrap me up in one of those brown wooly seat covers; I don’t need to be the hero of the lavatory. I’m proud of taking a supporting role.
But what does my life look like now?
I’m forever relegated as a high concept art manifesto for some guy that still thinks it’s original to recontextualize utilitarian household items and is naive enough to call it art.
Ha, laughable man!
Come on buddy, it’s been done before.
The art world is going to chew you up and spit you down its plumbing, which will land you in corporate design, or some meddling half assed career path of America’s choosing. This was your one moment to make a splash; to inflict the sheer will of your personality into the world. And what did you choose as the centerpiece of this grandiose moment?
You started and stopped the conversation by serving up a toilet seat for the world to dote on.
I don’t even want to talk about the price tag to my left.
You’ve made a mockery of my many times over. I was already a universal cheap joke; it’s not like dignity runs deep in these bloodlines.
Pull me off this wall and re-install me somewhere dignified. Hell, I’d even settle for a public bathroom in the subway station at this point. That actually sounds really good right now.
I’m not art.
Andrew Miller is a writer from Portland, Oregon currently living in Tokyo, Japan. He works as a creative for Wieden+Kennedy making advertising campaigns for clients such as Nike and Playstation. He blogs street photos and commentary on Tokyo at oylintokyo.tumblr.com. You can follow @oylmiller on Twitter.