Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Kyle Olson at GGallery

Robert Boyd

Sometimes you go to an exhibit and you are flummoxed. It's embarrassing to admit you really don't get it. It's worse if you like the show but don't get it than if you dislike it. Because if you dislike it and don't get it, you can just walk away and forget it. Kyle Olson is willing to say a lot about his art. It's just that nothing he says really explains much. He writes:
In describing my project or practices, I concentrate on the things that I'm not doing. Art is not a thing which benefits terribly from positive description. I approach my studio practice without a positive system. Or perhaps I attempt to tear away the mental divisions one is left with when using positive descriptions. This is one of the most beneficial explanations I can think of for my work. (untitled statement)
Thanks a heap, Kyle.

His titles, full of double negatives and paradoxes ("Not Untitled", "Called an Untitled Name", etc.), don't help much either, except to reinforce that this art's meaning is for Kyle to know and for us to find out.

Kyle Olson, Not Untitled, satin, mahogony and steel

Some of his work is pretty identifiable as art. Not this. This is one of those pieces that, as Arthur Danto wrote about Andy Warhol's Brillo Boxes, needs the context of an art space to be identified as art. It's also the first piece in the show. This may be important. Olson numbers the pieces and while their location in the gallery is not in any identifiable line, they are meant to be seen in sequence. He writes:
I have loved reading comics since I was a child but I actually prefer to think of them as "sequential art." [note: people who refer to comics as "sequential art" are pretentious. Just sayin'.--ed. ]The thing I like most about them is the gutters, the space between the panels. It is this negative space that allows each reader to deviate from the fixed narration fo the comics and create an experience unique to themselves. [sic] It is this sense of sequentially [sic] that I hope to employ both within individual works and between each other.
Then the statement tells you in which order to look at the pieces. I interpret this as saying that the walk between the pieces--in order--is as much a part of the entirety of the show as are the pieces themselves.

Kyle Olson, Not Untitled and Unnamed, satin, pencil on paper, MDF [I'm not sure what MDF refers to]

The paper in this piece are stacks of post-its. In person, you can faintly see their flourescent colors through the satin covering. Of course, some of the post-its have drawings--which cannot be seen. The way the satin is bunched gives this shape the look of a white Devonian sea creature.

Kyle Olson, Not a Name, basswood, paper, gum

The strip of paper (that looks a bit like a measuring tape) is taken from a paper shredder that shredded prints of Olson's signature. The strip is taped up at Olson's height. The bowling pin? "A reference to games," Olson writes.

Kyle Olson, Not Called an Untitled Name, blown glass, bronze object, cast resin

In this piece, a simulacrum of a table has been made from cast resin. I guess it functions more-or-less as well as the table it imitates. Was the bottle also the product of skilled craftsmanship--in service of imitating something mass-produced? Could be.

Hey, maybe the title of the show, "Dedendum," will help us understand!

  • Dedendum Circle: The circle through the bottom lands of a gear.
  • Dedendum: The radial distance between the pitch circle and the dedendum circle. 
  • Pitch Circle: Theoretical circle upon which all calculations are made. This is the circle that rools without slipping with the pitch circle of the mating gear.
Well, maybe not. I am just as flummoxed now as when I started. I liked what I looked at, but understood nothing... Go to GGallery and check it out yourself. And if you figure it out, let me know.

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