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Promiscuity of Space: Some Thoughts on Jessica Stockholder's Scenographic Compositions Author(s): Miwon Kwon Source: Grey Room, No. 18 (Winter, 2004), pp. 52-63 Published by: The MIT Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20442670 . Accessed: 30/08/2011 22:10
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New York. electrical cord. concrete. stuffed shirts pillows. miscellaneous building material. Paint. Installation at Dia Center for the Arts. welded steel. 52 . 1995. structolite. paper mache. purple plastic stacking crates.Jessica Stockholder.600 sq ft/ 18 ft ceiling. 3. Your Skin in this Weather Bourne Eye Threads & Swollen Perfume. All photographs courtesy of Gorney Bravin + Lee. carpet. balls. lamps. swim ming pool liner.
in turn play this large-scale off of the existing assemblage is another given exhibition space. PVC piping. couches and chairs. pleasing and visual languages into a talent in transforming diverse materials coherent compositional whole has been duly recognized. framed by. linoleum tiles. electric fans. Intersecting. on the specificity of the installa But to place central importance tions' constituent parts (for ametaphorical reading) or the finesse of materials with which the heterogeneity (for a the artist handles work. or support architecture of the ingquasi-architectural constructions-platforms. ledges. refrigerator doors. This seemingly indiscriminate accumulation of "stuff stuck columns-that throughout together"1 is usually attached to. ramps. yellow. spools of thread. nets. lumber. carpets. birdcages. cardboard. newspa pers. sec ondhand furniture shops. plastic storagebins. mattresses. her installations over the years have included ordinary things like oranges and lemons (plastic and organic). lightbulbs. fabric. and basement storage rooms. is tomiss a key aspect of Stockholder's technical appreciation) . packing tape. bathtubs. and juxtaposed layer of aesthetic information: bright patches or fields of paint (orange. stoves. electrical wiring. objects as the contours of the accumulated red) that tend to disobey walls or preexisting well as the shape and edges of the constructed and visual cues and floors. That is.walls. skeins of yarn. old suitcases. clothing.kitchen sinks. twine. and so on. washing machines. a rather miraculous formal resolution (as lations achieve. as aMatisse for one critic). shower curtains. garage sales." of materials." and a "cacophony thrown eccentrically together. tennis balls. tables. ribbon. The sheer volume of disparate materials it as "things in Stockholder's work has led various critics to describe "orchestratedhavoc."2 But all tend to agree that her seemingly anarchic instal in the end. Sheetrock. wire mesh. lamps. chests of drawers. Drawn from the stuff of hardware stores. aqua. overlaying. blankets. roofing paper. Stockholder's painting. almost out of control. stuffed animals. Christmas trees. cables. balloons.Promiscuity of Space: on Thoughts Some Stockholder's Jessica Compositions Scenographic MIWON KWON Jessica Stockholder's installations often appear messy and funky.
wondering how one might think through the assumptions and implications of the bracketed idea. until the next time I come across it. The invitation there it is again.Certainly the combining andmodifying of the stuff of everyday life. I do not return to it. to write about the unanswered the work ques tion. I take my cue from the > textual treatment of the remark itself. almost a throwaway thought. In confronting Stockholder's work. But this rupture in reading is always brief I proceed to the end of the essay In doing rather easily. large-scale assemblage 54 Grey Room 18 . Each time I imag ine that this thinking through would be important and worthwhile in opening up new ways of under standing certain aspects of post-1960s artistic devel opments.. then to reflect on it enough to get it off my back (for a while). and as ifmeeting a familiar bump in the road..waiting for a thorough unpacking. happenings. links Stockholder's work closely to the precedents ofAllan Kaprow's and RobertRauschenberg's assem blage aesthetic. installation art. That is. A parenthetical remark toward the end of Rosalind Krauss's influ ential essay "Sculpture in the Expanded Field" (1979) has always troubledme. the inade quacies of various postwar arthistories become all too apparent in this regard. (Different versions of this spatial ambition can be traced in a variety of practices. environments. so. from abstract expressionist and color field painting to "flatbed" combines. other artistic endeavors that have also pushed towardbroader spatial parameters or frames for the work's articulation. Every time I revisit the essay. and land art.4 For some readers.) However. Stockholder's particularmode of constructing what I would call "scenographic counterarchitecture" within the austere "real" architecture of art andmuseum galleries is not well accounted for in relation to. Iget stuck at the same point. bypass ing the path of inquiry suggested by the seeminglys casual parentheses. I am reminded. hallways. and in contradistinction with. Which reminds me . and sequences of spaces as an arena within which. Stockholder also figures as an inheritor of the prominent tendency toward spa tialization in postwar art. of Jessica Stockholder prompted me to decide thatmaybe it is finally time to attend toKrauss's parenthetical remark more and if not to directly or fully answer seriously it. theatrical. and in relation to which. minimalism and process art. I forget it. putting Stockholder's colorful. at leastmomentarily. In fact.3 But in taking over entire rooms. presented as an aside. decorative. literally including the kitchen sink. to create assemblages in architectural proportions.
a foolhardy art critical effort. into proximity with the stringent. Krauss sees sculpture's reconnec tion to its physical context. in this Weather Bourne Eye the landscape. Alice Aycock. / _ Kwon Promiscuity of Space: Some Thoughts on Jessica Stockholder's Scenographic Compositions 55 . Richard Long. self-referential. Sculpture iswhat is in the room that is not the room. its centrality and nomadic. But theway inwhich Stockholder's practice fails to fit intoKrauss's schema is of interest and significance. among others. and universal-loses grounding by the early 1970s. RobertMorris. Ihope. anti-aesthetic vocabu laryof some of the artists highlighted in "Sculpture in theExpanded Field" would seem an unproductive juxtaposition. Skin Your & Threads SwollenPerfume. Krauss's essay lays out an impressive structuralist mapping of how themodernist category of sculpture-understood as autonomous. but not in order to return to the premodern as place-bound commemoration. constituted as a double nega tivity: not landscape and not architecture.Why Stockholder's work should prompt me to rethink "sculpture in the expanded field" will become clearer. and Robert Smithson. In the work of artists such as Carl Andre. it is what is in the landscape that is not Jessica Stockholder. as Iproceed.installations. comprising amotley selection of familiar stuff from daily life. logic of themonument-sculpture Krauss instead argues that sculpture can now be understood as sus pended between a set of oppositions. Unfolding the relations of opposition and negativity 1995.Mary Miss.
Perfume.further.more questions . E 56 Gre Roo ~ 1 . and axiomatic structures (architecture/not-architecture). including abstraction. . Your Skin in this Weather Bourne Eye Threads & Swollen 1995. The complex tension between uniqueness (originality) and repro ducibility (copies) is indeed a central problem for twentieth-century painting."5 On the face of it. To Jessica Stockholder. propose uniqueness and reproducibility as opposing terms tomap out painting's postmodern expansion seems reasonable enough. . techniques ofmechanical reproduction-particularly pho tography-are unavoidable in thinking about. But as one thinks aboutKrauss's statement. Andy Warhol's repetitive and serialized silkscreen paintings orGerhard Richter's photo-realistic canvases and his citational paintings of various genres. site constructions (landscape/architecture). After all. she remarks as an aside-and here is the parenthetical statement that has been my stumbling block: "The postmodernist space of painting would obvi ously involve a similar expansion around a different set of terms from the pair architecture/landscape-a set thatwould probably turn on the opposition uniqueness/reproducibility. portrait. and landscape.After leading the reader through her precise logical operation.Krauss diagrams other alternative positions that define the expanded field of sculpture afterminimalism: marked sites (land scape/not-landscape). the remark does not seem all that remarkable. for instance. # 1 ~~~~~ . _ i <. still-life.
For instance. what are the stories to be told about the link between the hori zontal spatial drive evident in Jackson Pollock's allover drip paintings orBarnett Newman's wall-like. or relations between mediums. thatmight be occluded by the seemingly irrefutable and thus powerfully seductive logic of her argument.creep intomind. practice is not defined in relation to a given medium-sculpture-but rather in relation to the logical operations on a set of cultural terms. For. forwhich anymedium photography. for example. environment-making canvases and the spatial drive indicated in.within the situation of postmodernism. is she suggesting that the opposition of uniqueness/reproducibility is not equally relevant to sculpture?6 Conversely. uniqueness and reproducibility for painting? It might be commonsensical to situate sculpture in relation to spatial conditions defined by architecture and landscape. perhaps illogically. Krauss explicitly counters themodernist critics of the 1970s: What appears as eclectic from one point of view can be seen as rigorously logical from another. does not Krauss's suggestion imply that a foundational. books. I wonder. especially in the postwar period? "Sculpture in theExpanded Field" is an essay that argues against the modernist need tomaintain variousmediums of art as separate and pure. but is painting not also a spatial and spatializing practice? The purpose ofmy posing these questions is not to undercut Krauss's claims or their impact but to hint at the possibility of other art-historical narratives.medium specific opposition of cultural terms exists throughwhich tomap a particularmedium's postmodern expansion-architecture and land scape for sculpture. or sculpture itself might be used. despite their sup posed ideological opposition?9 It has become a commonplace to locate the origin of installation happenings or minimalism-that in recent years art (the category is to postwar neo under which we can place Stockholder's art) to either Kwon Promiscuity of Space: Some Thoughts on Jessica Stockholder s Scenographic Compositions 57 . about the possible relationship between Krauss's expanded field of sculpture and the "field" of color field painting. Further. specif ically around the issue of space. is the opposition of architecture/landscape not equally appropriate to painting. mirrors. is there a convergence of New York School abstract painting andminimalist and postminimalist sculpture. lines on walls.7 Yet. For example. Dan Flavin's room-size color-light installations?8More generally.
small incandescent light.avant-garde performance or sculpture-insofar as both asserted tem porality. as her predecessors felt ideologically compelled to do. This is the kind ofmimetic space thatClement Greenberg wanted purged from painting as not only superfluous but also a betrayal of the essence of themedium. Jessica Stockholder. phenomenological. a view in type from the one revealed different the panoramic scrutiny opens up from a single van Opposite. herwork sustains amultiple spatiality inwhich the viewer can simultaneously experience several different types of spaces. Styrofoam. First is the residual notion of space as fictive. one red and one green light. ideal. In the former. the quality of these different types of spaces oscil lates. & 1988. three different notions of space seem to have structured the discourse of art from this period.Moreover. Kissing tage point. representational. Curator Lynne Cooke captures the complexity of such multiple spatial experiences in her assessment of Stockholder's tour de force installation Your Skin in thisWeather Bourne Eye-Threads & Swollen Perfume. partally concealed volumes and planes. and "real" space as integral aspects of aesthetic experience. small piece of furniture. reflecting an interest in making art that calls attention to the actual material con ditions of a room or that in itself becomes a spatial environment to move through or occupy. Finally is the idea of space as literal. This is the kind of sublime space that artists likeMark Rothko and Newman sought to achieve with their paintings. when is first approached via the ramp. This is the kind of space thatminimalists likeMorris and Richard Serra championed (with the support of critics like Krauss) and that their famous detractor Michael Fried called "theatrical. Enamel. illusionistic. 2?/ ft high. bodily experience. one small piece of furniture. various "events" that are experienced temporally-plummeting vectors. pictorial. embodied space (immediate with and encompass ing the viewer). newspaper. Broadly speaking. 1988. the rectangularwooden jamb serves to hold in tension. Kissing the Wall #1. and transcendent-beyond the visible and themate rial. "primary. This emphasis on "real" space. top: Jessica Stockholder. Without opting for one model of space over another. a 1995 work Arts in New York City: When appears the installation that is totally exhibited at the Dia Center for the later. creating envi ronments in their own right."10social. bottom: Opposite. The second kind of space is abstract. and occluded 58 Grey Room 18 .""1 What is so distinctive about Stockholder's accomplishment in light of this discourse is how all three notions of space seem to come together and coexist in her installations. and depicted. and real-the space of lived experience. behavioral. and news paper with glue. so that what looks from one view to be a representational or pictorial space (distanced from and excluding the viewer) is in another instance actual. in precarious andmomentary equilibrium. was a central point of debate among critics and artists of the generation following Abstract Expressionism. Wall Paint. the #4 red green.
" The ongoing realization of the consistency and discrep in the exchange between visual recogni ancy that coexist tion and bodily encounter-of colors. space. Stockholder's explo ration of the interface and reciprocity between painting as Cooke and architecture. structures. the seem ingly promiscuous miscellany arranges itself as if a series of overlapping flat planes. from the synoptic perspective. like the pieces from the 1988-1992 Kissing theWall series) confirms Cooke's observation that Stockholder's installations are antithetical to the formally reductive or deconstructive to site-specific art seen in the work of. with the given architecture of the exhibition space functioning throughout. Her installations Kwon I Promiscuity of Space: Some Thoughts on Jessica Stockholder's Scenographic Compositions 59 . notes.12 What Cooke is pointing relative out here position. as Cooke squeezing out time. and spatial modalities-is the dramatic reward for viewers of Stockholder's stagings (who inevitably become the works' are simultaneously abstract "actors"). has put it. By contrast. in embracing painting and architecture equally. also supports notion the heuristic of "painting's extended field"14 as a potential to Krauss's in the counterpoint "sculpture expanded field. for approaches Asher (brought to architecture instance. Here. objects.spaces. Michael through art and institutional conceptual critique) or Serra (arriving 7_ at architecture through sculpture). flattened and the viewer's between out into a series of planes.13Furthermore. is not simply Rather that Stockholder's the ways installation gives on to different views and impressions depending on the viewer's she is describing inwhich the installation inscribes the viewer into different modali ties of spatial perception: both an embodied experience thatunfolds over time through the viewer's movement through the work and a pictorial coalescence that freezes thework into an "instantaneous" image. in a composition that is now implicitly in format and that exists rectilinear in a kind of suspended present: in short. then. The status of to object to architectural from picture framing and compositional element construction. into an image whose duration and form is quintessentially retinal. is art that proposes the possibility of positioning itself the two-dimensional. body (reduced. to the retinal). three-dimensional spatiality the installation itself shifts as an integral flatness of painting and the pictorial and scale of architecture. This of both categories (evident even in Stockholder's smaller furniture-scaleworks. Stockholder's work asserts (somewhat voraciously) a both/and affirmative attitude partaking rather than one of either/or.
collides with color as a condition of things in 60 Grey Room 18 . 2003. Installation at Musee dArt Contemporain de Bordeaux. France. representational and real. The green colored fan. fan. and a resistance on the other. This particular rug is slightly twisted in relation to the planes of the floor. blowing stands a household "green" air away from of a large rug. seven rugs. Stockholder's use of color is particularly exemplary in this regard. chande lier. is allowed tomaintain its integrity or to fully accommodate another element. Just as it is impossible to find a stable. Opposite: Jessica Stockholder. stack of 100 skeins of red yarn (two rows are painted over in a lighter shade of pinkish orange) sits as an almost abstract cubic form on top cube of yarn of a piece of olive green carpet. green carpet. France. The rug is one the yarn cube and into the underside amongmany others thathang from the ceiling by braided steel cables. with independent relationship to theworld of things. for instance. Even within we can inventory this small installational episode. France. 1994. or an architectural structure (thus. 100 balls of yarn glued together with silicon caulking. in 1994. exhibited at Le Consortium inDijon. the rug's pattern is visible from the underside through the semitransparent green paint (matching the color of the carpet on the floor) that almost covers the full spread of the rug. revealing in its drooping heavy form its materiality. braided steel cable. a confusion of boundary"'15-is that no one element. oscillates between being a fan that has been painted green and a fan that is to say the status of color as an is green. and walls. TV Tipped Toe Nails & the Green Salami. wood. What produces these unstable doublings engendering what the artist describes as "a struggle between differ ent ways of viewing contribut[ing] to the rise of a kind of blur. ear shape. on the other hand. the presence of color as a surface condition is often undercut by color as volume and vice versa. to its own flat rectilin on the one hand. it is a of the olive green carpet on the material condition 4 floor and the skeins of red yarn. In the installation House Beautiful. Paint. hinges. Next to the pink/red fan painted green. which a detached and abstract or surface entity. a color. color is applied to the underside of the rug (green) and to the dou ble row of yarn (pink). The proximity of these surface/material aspects throws into relief the ambiguity of color in a profound way. objective sense of spatial ori entation to inside/outside or front/back in her work (these relations continuously alter depending on themovement of the viewer). pictorial and material. Dijon. be it an object. and available forhaptic and optic apperception. the double operation of color in Stockholder's art. House Beautiful. ceiling. decora tive and structural.and literal.On the one hand. spatialmodal ity). Further. hardware. Installation at Le Consortium. by extension. a squared Below: Jessica Stockholder. for exam ple. And these oppositions flip-flop throughout a viewer's experience of any one installation.
tural. reflect Stockholder's ambitious and sustained exploration of the convergence of collage."17 Just as the artist seeks to upset her own she clarity of vision to "make room fornew thoughts. created through a seemingly idiosyncratic and arbitrary overlaying of colors. familiar objects. made-the Positioned somewhere between painting and architecture."16 IIiII It is impossible to effectively convey inwords the shifting play of perceptual experiences within Stockholder's installations. As she admits in a 1995 statement: "Color drives me. or a possibility for expansion lurking in the background of everything we make. as something that collects onto things and takes up space.. a lack of definition.."18 offers the same to her audience.. These moments. and spatial conditions. to see itwork. Stockholder's work produces an "experi ence having to dowith the difficulty of having things cohere. or com positing the terms of each. involving as it does the unpredictable movement of the viewers' eyes and bod ies as they negotiate theworks' open-ended sequences of exposed and intimatemoments. abstraction. This interest in the play between themateriality of color and the color of materials is central to Stockholder's artistic effort. and the ready three key artistic innovations of the twentieth century. Imake art to [But] I experience color as sculp play with color.themselves. Kwon[ Promiscu:ty of Space: Some Thoughts on Jessica Stockholder's Scenographic Compositions 61 . a physical event existing next to physical objects.
Serra simultaneous abstraction the Real. of the gallery borrows 14. serves with as the space Anthology. Michael "Sculpture Auping some minimalist and "Beyond Michael the Sublime. "Art and Objecthood. idea from the title of a 1996 Center for Contemporary Art in his exhibition evaluation of Stockholder's Konsthall Extended work. sculptural Garde" (1981) and "Sincerely and Other Modernist Myths. 155. 9. would have little in common but in the expanded ticity pertaining with field." this at the Stockholm "Painting?The the Rooseum See Raphael inMalm?: 62 Grey Room i8 . 1991). But nothing of those artists forging sculpture to the uniqueness of sculpture. The Return of Press. that in Stockholder's derived distant as a minimalist Iwonder how space "gallery its affinities 'theater. 100." such connections 288. 8. to Richard in Auping. It is reprinted commissioned in the Expanded Field" Krauss. On "Formalism 32-43. (1982) addressing Krauss. is not central to his of space and break between "The Crux MIT of Minimalism." 1996). 10. + Lee" by Bravin "Jessica Stockholder: Gorney 77-78. minimalism and New York School in Hal Foster. Lynne Cooke. Rosalind The Originality 1985). 4. ed. Raphael Rubinstein. Dutton Sight/Site.Notes 1. While the 146-66 issue (New York: Harry Abrams." (New York: in Your Dia Center Skin for the Arts." taken up in Rodin's 171-94. between color field painting and in Michael Auping. The issue is in relation and reproducibility instead in later essays specifically See Rosalind Yours" 151-70. The "Lynne (London: 2. 5. See Miller." for the exhibition Jonathan Sculpture Flash Art 34. object merges 7. The 11.P. no. See characterization is the artist's with own. Art: A Critical 1968). the "ethos "The Originality of reproduction" of the Avant practice. in this Weather 1996).Michael continuity in Hal Foster. John Miller has observed an expanded canvas.' with these two uses work. in Rosalind and Other Modernist Myths (Cambridge: MIT Press. Salami the link between and Its Other. 7 (September 2001): Christopher 2001): 151." 116-47 (New York: (1967) E. Mus?e TV Tipped of Stockholder's installation catalogue here with minor modifications. Art News (May/June work and see John Miller. Jessica Stockholder. "Fabricating & Swollen Perfume Eye-Threads 13. (1979). Krauss remark practice of this "Sculpture of the Avant-Garde the parenthetical before herself just a few sentences acknowledges a pervasive within the maintains and integral presence that photography in the expanded is made field. This de Bordeaux Toe Nails essay was originally for the exhibition # the Green Krauss." makes land art through the trope in Abstract Expressionism: of the sublime The Critical 1987). 20. 1995). and Field. not But 38. Debordian spectacle. 218 Chambers. 6. and Barbara Pollack. Gregory Battock. 7 (Summer 2001): 174. in the Expanded Field. See Jessica Stockholder. d'art contemporain by cape. Auping." really are. 35-70 term (Cambridge: is attributed Hal Foster maps the argument. Stockholder's in Jessica Stockholder (Rotterdam: assemblage. Developments. inMinimal & Co. 3. (2003). in The Originality of the Avant-Garde seem It would that Rodin's work with of "sculpture the kind of post-studio production I suspect and authen the problems of originality/copy as the art to the "ethos of reproduction" (even intensifies) persists the field. no. ed. 289. in Jessica quoted Stockholder in Tillman Phaidon reviews in Conversation Press.. Witte de With. Fried. Krauss. 12. Bourne 29." Goodman. no.
Out of Bounds." of Things interview "Shapes by Raphael (November 1995): 103." artist Art in America (November 1997): 111. 15. 18. 103. Jessica Stockholder. Jessica "Abstraction Stockholder. Stockholder. Stockholder. quoted "Shapes in Turn-of-the originally published in Jessica Stockholder 1993). 142." to Come. in "Lynne of Things Tillman. Century Magazine (Spring 16. 17. Art in America Rubinstein." 41.Rubinstein. to Come. quoted (1995). statement Kwon I Promiscuity of Space: Some Thoughts on Jes:Sica S d der's Scenographic Compositons 63 .