Monday, October 27, 2014

The Curious Vision

Artwork is the perfect example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

"Information" Hanne Darboven, 1973, artist's book, 72 pages

This dictum is well illustrated by a very unusual piece on display at the Hirshhorn Museum (Washington, DC) exhibition, “At the Hub of Things”.  The work by Hanne Darboven, entitled “27K-No8-No26” consists of nearly 150 typewritten sheets which are framed in classic skinny black metal frames.

The grid is fine, although the arrangement is asymmetrical:  7 rows of 19, and a bottom row of 16.  The bottom row is perhaps 4 feet below eye level so it isn’t immediately evident, but the arrangement is very curious.

And the typing on each page is also vastly curious:  mathematic formulas, groupings that add one character per sheet, hand written notes delineating every ten marks; enigmatic formulas that follow the arrangement of numerals, characters, punctuation marks…funky, bizarre, compulsive. 

The dozens of typewritten pages are not a single sequence.  Several different ideas make the collection all the more interesting.  I’ve never heard of this artist, but the piece got me to search a little, check it out, and learn some— pretty cool, pretty fun. 

Her work on Google Images reveals page after page as her modus operandi: whether scribbles, numbers (numerals actually), or equations, the incessant nature of her artwork/installations is a hallmark.

Hanne Darboven’s artwork at the Hirshhorn exhibition is quite unusual.  The ubiquitous 70’s grid got filled with Darboven’s personal formulas and mathematical progressions.  All that empty space, every bit of it is earnestly filled. 

”27K-No8-No26”, as its title might suggest, is different from the other pieces displayed at the Hirshhorn, even though it shared some basic formal elements of grid, repetition, and text.  Really different; it’s the result of an artwork which is entirely idea based, rather than aesthetically based.

(Hanne Darboven, photo by Gianfranco Gorgoni, date unknown)

Hanne Darboven’s artwork made me realize that I knew how to look at abstract paintings, but that viewing conceptual art was a different experience.  It was fun to have disorientation again when confronted by artwork--from the 70's!

No comments:

Post a Comment