NIGHT TIME IS THE RIGHT TIME
JUNE 8, 2006 11:50 PM
While waiting for the number 6 bus tonight around 11 PM, I came across two people planting some bell peppers at the feet of the Gulliver sculpture that was recently installed in Grand Rapids.
"THE ARTIST AND POLITICS: A SYMPOSIUM"
MAY 1, 2006 12:22 AM
While looking through Harrison and Wood's Art in Theory: 1900-1990, I came across an excerpt from an issue of Art Forum from September 1970.
Dealing with issues of Civil Rights, political dissent and the never ending war in Vietnam. Art Forum decided to send out a question asking contemporary artists what kind of political action should be taken by artists. I though Carl Andre's response was applicable to the PLANT! project.
Taken from Art Forum Sept. 1970:
A growing number of artists have begun to feel the need to respond to the deepening political crisis in America. Among these artists, however, there are serious differences concerning their relations to direct political actions. Many feel that the political implications of their work constitute the most profound political action they can take. Others, not denying this, continue to feel the need for an immediate, direct political commitment. Still others feel that their work is devoid of political meaning and that their political lives are unrelated to their art. What is your position regarding the kinds of polical action that should be taken by artists?
Given: Art as a branch of agriculture.
1 We must farm to sustain life.
2 We must fight to protect life.
3 Farming is one aspect of the social-political-economic struggle.
4 Fighting is one aspect of the social-political-ecomomic struggle.
5 We must be fighting farmers and farming fighters.
6 There is no merit in growing potatoes in the shape of machine
7 There is no merit in making edible machine guns.
8 Life is the link between politics and art.
9 Settle for nothing less than concrete analysis of concrete
situations leading to concrete actions.
10 Silence is assent.
Initially I was drawn to Andre's analogy between art and agriculture because our walking lines and the forms that we are creating are very reminiscent of minimalist painting and scultpure. Though, there are many more similarities.
Just as in 1970, we are faced with Civil Rights issues, political dissent and a never-ending war. When I first began using agriculture as sculpture [see: Agrifitti], I was very interested in the operation of local economies in urban areas as protest against our government who is fueled by capitalism and imperialism. But the engaging of empty and/or unused space is also very political [see:Belltown Paradise/Making Their Own Plans].
Do you feel that an artist's choice of using agriculture is innately political?
Is PLANT! political?
THEN WE WALKED LINES
APRIL 20, 2006 3:52 PM
we saw the ladies in the window
i talked to a driver at the stoplight
we walked lines
APRIL 18, 2006 12:34 PM
Today Joe and I walked lines. After walking lines we started pulling up weeds, thistles, dandelions and other plants and laid them in a row.
Pulled them up -
Laid them down -
Looked at them -
We also looked up at the windows across the street at the police station building and noticed we were being spied on by two nice ladies - they waived. We crossed the street to see if we could talk to them and let us take a picture from their window, but the security guard was being very evasive and power tripping. "'em are fe'ral courts, nope can't go up 'er".
THE RITUAL AND THE HISTORY OF THE EARTH WE WALK
APRIL 11, 2006 3:48 PM
We have been talking about, while walking, the ritualistic aspects of what we are doing. We have set up a sculptural, shrine looking pile of discarded items we have found on our site - and then we walk lines toward it, and away from it. This morning we put a stick of Nag Champa incense at the end ot the three center lines, and walked until they were finished burning.
We then went to the Grand Rapids Library and began researching our plot.
By looking through city directories all the way back to 1912, we found out that there had once been a very prosperous hotel on our plot, the Cody Hotel. Looking at the Sanborn maps from 1953, we found the plot had been edited. When the map was originally made the Cody Hotel still existed, but the map had been ammended in 1955 and 1956.
The Cody on the map had been topped with parchment that reads "PARKING". We looked through the city directories from 1953 to 1956 and figured it was torn down sometime in 1955. We have yet to look through the newspapers from that year to find more information. We also spent time looking at Sanborn maps all the way back to 1867. This map is from 1894:
While searching the internet I came across an amazing photo of the Cody Hotel. It was built as the Warwich Hotel in 1886 and then destroyed in 1958.
BEN AND CRAIG
APRIL 11, 2006 3:41 PM
walking lines on Friday Night.
LINES WALKED: 04/07/06 : 18:05 EST - 22:05
APRIL 8, 2006 7:09 PM
I began walking lines at 6:05 PM on Friday evening.
First visitor was a slightly inebriated friend making his way from Z's Sports Bar and Grill to the bus stop on Fulton and Division. He told me about a movie he planned casting this summer and filming this fall. The basic premise of the movie is a father who follows/stalks the man who raped his daughter. It turns out that, his daughter was not actually raped - but had made "sweet passionate love" to his daughter. The father, obsessed with the purity of sex and marriage, is disillusioned and becomes obsessed. We walked lines while he told me about this, for almost 25 minutes.
Second visitors, a group of Kendall students. They began with a heckle, "This isn't art, this isn't a gallery!" Which I found odd, because I hadn't said a word to them or placed my walking in any sort of context for them. One of them chimed in, "this has already been done, you are such a rip off," referring to Stan Shellabarger - who we mentioned in our first post. I tried to talk about the differences between Stan Shellabarger's work and what Joe and I are doing, but they had no patience and refused to walk. About 45 minutes later, after thinking about this interaction, I came up with a good response. This group's accusation that I was ripping off another artist is pretty shallow. It's like saying that Julian Schnabel is ripping off Caravaggio because he uses paint. Walking these lines, treading the earth in our paths is simply a form of mark making. It is nothing original, and is subjective to the concept behind the medium, walking.
Third visitor - a fellow Calvin student. He told me about his recent photography project in which he drove a car while a friend took photos along a 15 mile stretch of highway through Gary, IN. Apparenlty the friend's friend was very unfamiliar with an SLR camera. After having friend's friend take the phots, he developed them and began drawing architectural figures on the photos, applying graphite. The night before he had tried to find some lines in the dark - he finally found them and walked one line 40 times.
Fourth visitor, two friends that were making their way from dinner. They had just eaten a veggie burrito at Little Mexico, and were glad to be walking to help digest. One of them is a chef at Bar Divani and told me about what she though about Sam Cummings, the owner of the property we are working on. I asked her about the different types of foods that they make, she described it as "fusion," for some reason I just assumed it was Italian food. Both she and her husband showed interest in beginning to collect local art works. He told me about his job and his half hazzard attempt at finding a new one.
Fifth visitor, two guys from Mezze came over on their smoke break to ask what I was doing. They laughed at me, made some jokes and talked about throwing rocks at me. One of them walked with me and became more encouraging after learning about the project. They smoked, then left.
Final visitor, one man came to ask what I was doing. He told me about a friend's project in chicago that would walk patterns in the snow.
CLEANSING AND WALKING, AND WALKING AS CLEANSING
APRIL 7, 2006 1:51 PM
Joe and I spent the morning on Thursday scouring the corner of Fulton/Division clearing the site of rocks and litter. We made a small shrine. One pile of rocks, one pile of litter.
Then we spent an hour walking back and forth, each on our own 20 foot line. Our walking is beginning tread through the grass exposing straight lines.
Later in the afternoon Wolpa came and walked the line some.
DERIVE LEADS TO DECONSTRUCTION
APRIL 5, 2006 6:09 PM
Mr. Post and I spent about two hours exploring the possibilites of the Heartside/Downtown neighborhood. We discovered alleys, hidden spaces and kitties [I will post my drawing soon of this kitty]. We came across what seemed to be an abandoned community garden, where we found a sheet telling us the Heartside Peace Garden was started in 1997 and plots were leased to people at no charged, with priority given to the homeless.
After continually talking about Joe's disinterest in traditional agricultural farming, due to past expierence, we began think about different ways to "garden" - after deciding on using the highly visible empty lot on the corner of Fulton Street and Division Ave, we almost simultaneously came up with very similar ideas of deductively gardening. We had both, separately, seen the work of Stan Shellabarger at the MCA in Chicago in his 12x12 exhibition. [see below]
We are currently exploring different type of staple crops [ie grains, wheats] that grow fast and tall to create a starting point to deconstruct. We will also be working the grasses and mosses that are currently already growing on the site, which will also involve passer-bys and the Heartside community at large.