Art and Destruction
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Most talk of and writing on art is about its relationship to creation and creativity. This of course takes various forms, but ultimately the creative act in the making of art works is a key issue. What happens when we put together art and destruction? This has been referenced in some major areas, such as that of art and iconoclasm and auto-destructive art movements. Less evident are accounts of more intimate, smaller scale 'destructive' interventions into the world of the made or exhibited art object, or more singular and particularised approaches to the representation of mass destruction. This volume addresses these lacunae by bringing together some distinct and very different areas for enquiry which, nevertheless, share a theme of destruction and share an emphasis upon the history of twentieth and twenty-first century art making. Scholars and makers have come together to produce accounts of artists whose making is driven by the breaking of, or breaking down of, matter and medium as part of the creative materialisation of the idea, such as Richard Wentworth, Bourke de Vries, Cornelia Parker, to name some of those artists represented here, and, indeed in one case, how our very attempts to write 'about' such practices are challenged by this making process. Other perspectives have engaged in critical study of various destructive interventions in galleries. Some of these, whether as actual staged actions in real time, or filmic representations of precarious objects, are understood as artistic acts in and of themselves. At the same time, an account included in this volume of certain contemporary iconoclasts, defacing or otherwise effecting destructive attempts upon canonised exhibited art works, reflects upon these destructive interventionists as self-styled artists claiming to add to the significance of 'works' via acts of destruction. Yet other chapters provide a fresh outlook upon distinctive and unusual approaches to the representation of destruction, in terms of the larger scale and landscape of artistic responses to mass destruction in times of war. This book will be of interest to readers keen to encounter the range of nuance, complexity and ambiguity applicable to the bringing together of art and destruction.
and weight of the body is shifted onto the delicate china tile. The effect of so many feet ground the tiles to dust, a material subsequently used by Twomey, which is possessed of strong associations with ephemerality, memory and loss. Edmund de Waal writes that, ‘Twomey made every step of a viewer break her artwork: the consciousness of moving in the space was made contingent on destruction’14. De Waal relates Consciousness/Conscience to the work of British sculptors Richard Long and Andy
upon the creation of an artwork. This intellectual convergence between ceramics and sculpture, as they come together in the moment of destruction, is underpinned by a significant formal relationship between ceramics and sculpture that likewise centres on destruction. Ultimately, this chapter has argued that the act of iconoclasm creates a moment at which the relationship between ceramics and sculpture can be both negotiated and revealed and that by examining the iconoclastic act as a moment of
moment of total silence each time… [Cummings] And it’s very tense – this is a museum where, of course, the biggest fear is breakage of any kind.”4 Cummings and Lewandowska had partly selected the ceramics galleries, situated off the beaten track on level 6 of the museum and rather undervisited, as the setting for their installation precisely because they were interested in bringing visitors up to this lesser known and at the time appealing un-reconstructed part of the collection. One assumes
to see the links to their own Effective Collections project and in fact suggested that, had the timescales been different, the Hermit project might have been eligible for funding under this scheme (interview with Nick Merriman, Manchester, 13 March 2012). Effective Collections, running from 2006-12, is described by the MA as follows: ‘Effective Collections has been the cornerstone of the MA’s work on collections since late in 2006. Supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, it is a programme of
Parker, there is a humour that runs through his works, not only in the way that the quirky is referenced, but also through the juxtaposition of things that suggest linguistic games or meanings beyond themselves.4 In the work of all three artists the sculptures refer to and explore the bonds between humans and their possessions. However, unlike Cragg and Wentworth, destruction and transformation are the pivotal and defining points in much of Parker’s work. This was particularly in evidence in the