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The Way Out Empty West (Judd's Deaf Spot)

 

Upon entering New Mexico from west Texas on Highway 10 there is a billboard that reads "welcome to the land of Enchantment."  I was somewhat trepidatious about that claim until I got hit in the face with a rainbow peeking through the clouds over mountains of red and white stone as my noble steed, B.S. Tumbleweed, hurries into to the dry expanse of strange insects and sharp plants thirsty for that mountain storm.

This rainbow event happened on my way to Albuquerque from Marfa.  It is certainly uncontroversial at this point to say that Marfa is worth a visit.  We get to see an artist's idealist vision set against all the world's entropy.  Judd's chairs sure do look like chairs, but go fuck yourself if you think you could sit in them for more than the time it takes to snap a picture of your uncomfortable ass on idealist furniture.  His benches have taken on a certain curly-cue tilt in the dry mountain heat.  I like this about them.  They are not ideals now that they exist.  

The moment the idea becomes object is the most exciting.  This is the moment of most potential, and occurs right before the pracitcalities of existence twist it all up.  Judd's objects always hover there as THE line between the artist's ideal and the actual.  They hover there exactly like a brick doesn't (to borrow a turn from Douglas Adams).

There is no escape from gravity and weather.  

I always wondered why, if Judd's art is as direct as he claims, it requires so many dissertations to explain.  That could be the wrong question to ask.  Judd's work inspires dissertations because in its natural context, it is never resolved.   The bench warps.  The 100 aluminum boxes expand and contract daily with the 40 degree temperature shifts causing the pristine alignment to skew.  A centipede scuttles under the milled aluminum box. 

Our group tour is informed by a docent that for Judd, the total work was the Art, Architecture, and Landscape.  Judd had a Deaf spot in his formula.  The environments he created are acoustically striking.  His works point not just visually to what surrounds them, but sonically to the shutting door, the footsteps, and whispers hissing their echoes slowly around the space.  The hard surface armory hut cathedral of 100 Aluminum Boxes yields a sibilant cave sound.  Humans look better standing next to these boxes, as the sounds they step out fill the dry midday air.

No one in Marfa makes sense in relation to everyone else.  There are a bunch of art weirdos and locals and Germans and no one else.  This could be the highest art educated population per capita in the world.  These small towners and art travellers are my people, and I can't help but think that this accumulation of art folks in the middle of nowhere border town is up there with the biggest acheivements of the Marfa takeover.  When Cormac Mccarthy describes the evening redness in the west, this is the territory of that genocide.  This is where the Judge's sillouette was so charged with meaning that his form was dimmed, and this little art-centered outpost lays claim to the heady sparse west.  Astronomers take view of dark nights without street lights.  Mustachioed fence menders run bars, and the big art money from the cities of the east and west funds all the shrubbery removal, concrete cleaning, and administrative upkeep of foundations and residencies.  That this place exists at all is encouraging for humanity.


Tune in later for the Lost Horse Saloon, Empty Set Albuquerque, the Dan Flavin experience, Drywall Residency LA, and the Odd Geometry Tour west coast.  Thanks for reading and if you like it, I encourage you to join my subscription service.  It helps me eat and you get two art multiples annually.  That's called a win win.  Just click the paypal Subscribe link to the left.

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Reader Comments (7)

Your post has a lot of ideas and some are mixed up with the other. I'm still wondering whether you are talking about Judd's greatness or you are simply criticizing him.

November 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHugh Samuel

you lay out a false dichotomy for me to choose, and so I cannot respond. perhaps you could state your confusion more specifically. I can tell you that Clarity is rarely the sole aim.

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterconrad

I think it's great to have a couple of art folks around. Their ideas may come weird but sometimes (or maybe often) they are really entertaining.

November 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVivian Kendricks

Maybe some things are meant for Art and the rest are for function. Sometimes these two can't be mixed, just like in Judd's chair, as you explained. But if that's how he did it, maybe we should just respect his sense of Art, whether or not we can sit on the chair.

November 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlexandra Woodsen

I absolutely respect his sense for art. He does what is most admirable in art. He lived a complex life that resulted in clearly stated ambiguity, while at the same time crafting well-made things in line with his stated ideas of beauty. I think I could have stated more clearly that the window for me to understand Judd is the twisted up bench, otherwise it seems perfection is the aim. Perfection is the booby prize and Judd's work appears to aim at perfection, when in fact it is existing on its own stubborn terms in a world bound to twist the bench.

November 20, 2011 | Registered CommenterFarnsworthtv

@ Vivian,
what do you mean by weird?

November 20, 2011 | Registered CommenterFarnsworthtv

I think Judd doesn't really care if his chair is more of an art or a functional product. He just created a piece that embodied what's on his imagination.

November 30, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterreinaelliston

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