Monday, 28 December 2009

‘How It Is’ – The Black Box by Miroslaw Balka

We cannot produce a new visual style, or definition. Only, artists can encroach upon a previously-seen painting/sculpture/instillation/other, with a new perception. A new reason for creating it. A new culmination of ideas.


The idea alone of any artwork of 2009 – if we see an artwork as comprising of just one – is unlikely to be original. However, each person ever to have existed, is unparalleled. And so the originality lies in the artist. It is thus the unique selection of motivations and inspiration that will be just this. It is this reason that when I see the ‘Turners and the Masters’ exhibition and write a critique, my output is unique, based upon my unique vision and decision of where to look and for how long; my unique selection of reading, viewing and absorbing of others’ opinions that shapes mine; and unique episodes of life that provide associations that can relate to my experience.


Concept, and the expression of it through language, is what make this black box different enough from a standard worldy experience, to a work of art. The artist relates the darkness to his knowledge of Plato’s ‘Allegory of a Cave,’ and this was spoken of as a blatant reference that the audience will instinctively recognise. I rightly, as not to altar or shape my perception due to it, read the accompanying text afterwards. Yet I did not consider such comparison to Plato, even though I am familiar with this philosophical allegoric tale. When within the carrier, all I was concerned with was where to go; and that time lapse that I am not fond of while I waited impatiently for my eyes to adjust to the darkness; and I, through Art College, have a trained artist mind. – I look at work aiming to understand, or consider beyond my initial understanding, to what the artist may have conceived or wanted me to conceive.


The annotation has instigated the loss of the intention, which was of ‘universal art.’ This purposefully large construction (13 metres tall and 30 metres long) is in a purposefully open-plan Turbine Hall, so that it can be a piece of public art. It is exactly about the sensation I outlined in the insecurities of darkness, and not outside references. It is non-referential – like the work of Anish Kapoor, unlike the work of Turner – so that it is intentionally accessible, to the everyday public. And in this case words again, and an artist’s flamboyancy ruins its paucity in character - The box’s complete humility. Nothing needs be said.


How It Is in amongst the fade of experiential, instillation art – so to judge your opinion you can only go and see how it makes you feel; and what it conjures up in your mind.


From the ‘The Unilever Series’ ‘How it is’ is in the Turbine Hall of the Tate until 5 April 2010

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