Evan Holloway: Art History = Successful Products + Time (a smorgasbord)
Hey friends – pretend it’s London and it’s 1984. Somewhere outside the window (we have a place in London now – a basement flat, foot level window on the street, open to the pungent London summer) people are talking – we begin to make out language so we follow the words/they capture our minds/intrigued, we all want to see as much as hear/up, we peer through our opening, pressing our chests to the clammy wall/Aah! We catch a glimpse of shod feet: one rough and tumble skinny ankle black laced boot and one pair of tattered moccasins, stained and worn. We watch as these two characters dance their words.
In this pas de deux Skinny Boot Person leads and Old Soft Shoes follows.
[the following text is courtesy the English band Long Pig and KPFK’s Andrea ‘enthal and her 1980’s radio show Twelve O’Clock Rock)
SkBP: I want you to talk to me.
OSS: I talk to you.
SkBP: Alright, um, right. I want you to say this thing with me: “Why do people find each other strange? I can’t tell one derange from another derange.” Can you say that?
SkBP: “Why do people find each other strange?”
OSS: Why do peepil
SkBP: Why do people
OSS: Why do people
SkBP: …find each other strange.
OSS: each othur strng
SkBP: I can’t tell
OSS: can’t tell
SkBP: one derange from another derange
(laughter from somewhere)
SkBP: Why do people (drum beat starts) find each other strange I can’t tell one derange…..
On it goes into the night.
One of the things we talked about in Evan Holloway’s studio is his proposition which I paraphrased in the title for this post. I sort of understand this reading of things, unfortunately I usually fall into a simplistic binary argument when I start talking theory: “to be preferred” vs “detestable,” “spiritual” against “material,” etc. This takes me no where. And (this to our mutual dismay) typing the phrase I just typed makes me sing Olivia Newton-John’s song “And It Gets Me Nowhere” to myself. Scary world.
Evan was also excited about Joan Brown’s Fur Rat and showed me his copy of the Berkeley Art Museum catalog Funk. In it was a small black and white photo of Brown’s sculpture – as Holloway noted, commenting on the quality of the image, “I didn’t even know the rat’s legs were tin foil!”
He then told me a story of seeing Charles Ray and Jason Meadows in conversation at LACMA’s David Smith sculpture show. Ray stated that “contemporary artists often use tables and chairs in their work because there is a place for them already.” A place in our minds, I took this to mean, and the artist can draw upon our understanding of these objects for his or her own uses. Evan Holloway extends this formula a bit, “There is also a place made (in our consciousness) for abstract shapes, we allow for abstraction.” Loss of meaning is another aspect to this recognition of abstract sculptures – the original moment for these works of art has passed so if an artist makes, and presents as new, an abstract sculpture our familiarity and history get in the way of a new reading. The artist’s frustration then, is in enjoying abstract shapes but being dissatisfied in the making of them. If an artist can’t create some tension in our understanding, find some way to resist or defy a simplistic understanding of the object, then the work suffers.
Evan Holloway has a history of… being playful with his art.
Hello again Evan,
I wonder if I may ask a few more questions? I first want to acknowledge having waited quite some time to address your work and our studio visit in Notes. Sorry. I really do want to approach your work honestly and thoroughly. I know the stove piece in Home Show, Revisited fits in with your other sculptures – some connections I can draw myself, but for some I am drawing a blank. Shooting blanks, so to speak.
The sculptures that spring instantly to my mind as related, and these because we talked about Modernist sculpture in your studio, are the early works that made direct reference to Modernist sculpture: the “Bank” piece, “Incense Sculpture” etc. Another direct connection would probably be “Smell Box,” of which I have only heard. Interestingly, I heard of this sculpture from Katy Brennan. (Is it possible that you or someone ‘reprised’ this piece for one of her ‘closing in LA’ shows?) Her mention of this work intrigued me – there is something about closed boxes and transference of an experience outside the gallery that is nice.
The parking meter sculpture you made for LACE reminds me of this. The LACE piece is more about institutional frustration, but as as viewer I can vicariously get a thrill for the lucky parker and preen my proletariat self by imagining a bureaucrat foiled. And again, the sculpture for Home Show makes reference to a box, closed or open – the stove and oven. Instead of transferring the experience elsewhere though, the sculpture brings the gallery experience into ‘an other’ place. And then transforms matter for us. Um, art as transformational experience.
Is this treacherously close to Modernist thought? (Is treachery always this delicious?)
I’ve been reading enough writing online to understand that there is a social aspect to your work – the sculptures ask for people to engage them either physically or intellectually, or risk missing the point. I get this. For “Left-handed Guitarist” I must provide the names of various guitar heroes, for “Despair” I start the ball rolling (how like life!), for the new stove piece I spritz the hot sculpture to make steam.
The sculptures in the show at the Hammer, the fiberglass one’s, seem to me about balance – I provide my own sense of balance for the sculptures to act upon and upset. What is the title 48″ x 97″ about?
(re: writing online, eg. Bruce Hainley on your work is pretty spectacular! Link to email convo btwn Holloway and Hainley to accompany Holloway’s 2008 Pomona College Museum exhibition here, “Towards a Funner Laocoon,” Hainley in Summer 2000 Artforum courtesy FindArticles here, link to SMMoA where catalog for “Mise en Scene” is still available here, Pomona College Project Series 35, Evan Holloway link here)
The aesthetics of the tree branch sculptures – and this is an aesthetic you seem to be revisiting in the newer wire work at the Hammer – is quite as memorably beautiful as the Modernist sculptures of those old and dead guys. I immediately want to ‘brand’ them in my head, the way I might when looking at a Brancusi or a Giacometti work. But, and this is a congratulatory but, they are completely of their moment, having the sincerity of the hand-made and arched eyebrow plus distance of irony and humor. Pretty sweet.
I think this turns into a physical aesthetic question: what is it about skinny line sculpture that you find satisfying? What does the shape communicate?
I’m thinking back and not finding a whole lot of color in your work. Perhaps in the heads. (Um, gee Geoff and the rainbow ones, as illustrated above!!!!! Dork.) Often natural color, as in native to a material, is emphasized or made use of. The new work at the Hammer as I recall was also muted in tone. Hmm, although you do claim “red” hot status for the stove sculptures. Using your cruciform chart for conceptual organization does this make your work mostly cool and wet?
The Funk catalog you showed me has been very helpful – those were artists who had a good Cali disregard, disdain even, for the canon and good senses of humor. “Not fitting in” has been both a blessing and a curse to those Funky artists in terms of career and art historical references. What are your thoughts on “not fitting in” as a strategy for artists and for art-making?
Thanks Evan, it’s nice to talk with you.
Evan’s work in Home Show, revisited consisted of several tiny Mod sculptures made of brass (I think) and mounted inside also brass gallery corners. Two of these sat on the burners of a stove in the home of a nice person in Santa Barbara. See various pictures and descriptions scattered about this text.
Think of this post as a potential interview, or not, depending. I put many of my favorite images up, as I have long wanted to. Much excitement in Notes on Looking-land. We love images.
Have fun tonight and this weekend. Tell stories to your friends – keep them amused.
Addition on July 19, 2011
Enjoy this video of Evan Holloway’s sculptures in action, Evan Holloway – Steaming Hot Sculptures. (I sort of imagined I had linked to this already but cannot find the link…..)
The more of CAF “Home Show, Revisited:
CAF Part 8: Evan Holloway: Art History = Successful Products + Time (a smorgasbord)