hello from a relative stranger, and two questions: Isaac Resnikoff

Isaac Resnikoff, Sapling Tree, detail, image from Francois Ghebaly Gallery which is linked

Isaac Resnikoff, Sapling Tree, detail, image from Francois Ghebaly Gallery which is linked

from Geoff Tuck
to Isaac Resnikoff
date Fri, Jul 22, 2011 at 5:16 PM
subject hello from a relative stranger, and two questions
mailed-by gmail.com

Dear Isaac,

My name is Geoff Tuck and I write Notes on Looking,

I think we have met, although I can’t recall where, the occasion has stayed with me.

I spent time with your project at Steve Turner and I really admire it. I wrote about the experience in my e-blast, although I haven’t yet gotten it up on the blog. I can forward the email to you if you haven’t seen it.

Isaac Resnikoff, The Things That Happened, installation view at Steve Turner, linked

Isaac Resnikoff, The Things That Happened, installation view at Steve Turner, linked

Isaac Resnikoff, The Things That Happened, detail, image from Resnikoff's website which is linked

Isaac Resnikoff, The Things That Happened, detail, image from Resnikoff's website which is linked

Isaac Resnikoff, Modern House, 2010, Archival inkjet print in artist's frame, 20 x 30 inches. link to Turner

Isaac Resnikoff, Modern House, 2010, Archival inkjet print in artist's frame, 20 x 30 inches. link to Turner

Isaac Resnikoff, The House With Two Rooms, 2011, archival inkjet print in artist's frame, 20 x 30 inches, link to Resnikoff's site

Isaac Resnikoff, The House With Two Rooms, 2011, archival inkjet print in artist's frame, 20 x 30 inches, link to Resnikoff's site

I was at Francois Ghebaly this afternoon, about an hour ago in fact, and again spent time looking at your work. I admire the objects that you make and I am intrigued by the ideas your work brings to my head. May I ask a few questions?

“Sapling Tree,” where the base meets the floor, looks to me like a very skinny, very old person who is balanced at three points (like the man in the Sphinx’s riddle). This person is balanced, resting on the surface and seems ready to move forward – to take a step. I think this phenomenon occurs because while gazing at that space on the floor, out of my peripheral vision I catch a glimpse of the tie crossing from the trunk to its support, like a stiff arm and hand grasping a crutch, or an old fashioned cripple’s stick.

Given the youth of the tree represented by your carving, this is a pretty neat image to find. In that way, it looks very, very fragile, just barely touching the ground. This feels… like a moment at dawn in a forest when trees that we know are rooted might briefly be free of the earth, and shaky in their freedom.

The longer I draw this out, the more like a metaphor for the beginning and also for the end of life it becomes.

I do not know your intention with this piece, but I appreciate the fact that your light touch allows my mind to wonder. Your assured and yet gentle nature with your materials is beautiful.

Why are the thirteen branches tipped? Is it purposeful that the support band is an infinity loop, or a Moebius Strip? Were you thinking of a particular tree, or type of tree? What is the wood you use in these carvings?

I understand that you made the stack-of-chairs-looking-sculpture with Francois’ space in mind. The size and the height are perfect. How is this piece titled? The checklist is either blank or the title is “2011.” I do not see “Untitled,” nor do I find any words at all save the material and the date with your name and the dimensions.

Ok, so here I go off the deep end a bit: the stack of chairs instantly made me think that it is occupying that space that Rachel Whiteread rather famously borrowed (or stole) from Bruce Nauman – the space under the chair. Your sculpture peoples that space with… more chairs. This is a pretty cool thing to have to think about because a sculpture throws it out at me.

What were you thinking about while making it? Any notion of Brancusi’s Endless Column? Or am I simply wandering in some fanciful hinterland, far, far from your conceptual domain? Is it crazy that I keep also thinking of chairs that I’ve seen in Van Gogh paintings? I remember them being made from rough, yellow wood – what the English might call “deal” and they were rendered by the artist crudely and precisely, if one can do such a thing.

The sapling also has this quality, when I step back and take in the tree-ness of the sculpture.

I hope you are well and I also hope very much to hear from you.

Sincerely,

Geoff

 

Isaac Resnikoff, Sapling Tree, 2010, carved wood, 29 x 6 x 76" link to Ghebaly

Isaac Resnikoff, Sapling Tree, 2010, carved wood, 29 x 6 x 76" link to Ghebaly

from Isaac Resnikoff
to Geoff Tuck
date Sat, Jul 23, 2011 at 1:17 PM
subject Re: hello from a relative stranger, and two questions
mailed-by gmail.com
signed-by gmail.com
Important mainly because of your interaction with messages in the conversation.

Hi Geoff,

Thanks for your email. I’m not subscribed to your email blast, but if you could put me on it for the future I’d be thankful. And I’d love to see the email you wrote about “The Things That Happened.”

As for your questions: these are great and I want to do them justice by taking some time with them. I’ll write you back soon.

Thanks again,

IR

Isaac Resnikoff, 2011, Carved wood, 20“ x 17.5” x 108” no link

Isaac Resnikoff, 2011, Carved wood, 20“ x 17.5” x 108” no link

from Geoff Tuck
to Isaac Resnikoff
date Thu, Jul 28, 2011 at 1:25 PM
mailed-by gmail.com

Hi Isaac,

I went by MB this week. New Jersey Barrier is pretty nice. The history
feels like it might be personal. I am able to make “art” connections
and this is nice but feels beside the point or unnecessary.

The construction of the piece is interesting, where there are holes bored
thru you have inserted what look like chunky blocks separate from the
main body. So with the corners and representations of concrete scars.
Long story short, I’m having fun looking at and thinking about your
work. I’d love to meet sometime.

Best,

Geoff

Sent from my iPhone

Isaac Resnikoff, Untitled (Jersey Barrier), 2009, Carved Wood, 20 x 2 x 3’ no link

Isaac Resnikoff, Untitled (Jersey Barrier), 2009, Carved Wood, 20 x 2 x 3’ no link

Isaac Resnikoff, Untitled (Jersey Barrier), 2009, Carved Wood, 20 x 2 x 3’ no link

Isaac Resnikoff, Untitled (Jersey Barrier), 2009, Carved Wood, 20 x 2 x 3’ no link

 

from Isaac Resnikoff
to Geoff Tuck
date Thu, Jul 28, 2011 at 11:14 PM
subject Re:
mailed-by gmail.com
signed-by gmail.com
Important mainly because of your interaction with messages in the conversation.

Hi Geoff,

Sorry to have taken a while in getting back to you. You have a very specific voice — or actually you speak from a very specific place — so that I don’t want to spit back all the old things I always say about my work. It’s taken me a while, though.

And maybe your questions about the Jersey Barrier will be a good place to start. It’s an older piece (2009), so I’ve had a little more time to get to know it. I think that you are right to say that the history in the piece is personal, although I wouldn’t say I have any real autobiographical connection to the thing. (No skateboarding, or federal building work, or Iraq war fighting). When I lived in Philadelphia they were building the National Constitution Center, and it was only a year or so after 9/11, and they had jersey barriers everywhere that were custom made with “We The People” cast into them in a Declaration of Independence font. Which was weird, and really highlighted the antagonistic relationship these things have to an idea of Liberty, or Agency — even if they serve a pragmatic purpose.

That’s an anecdote, but where you are right about the personal-ness of it, and where it relates to your question about the inserted “losses” in the form, is the time that exists in the piece because of the construction. This is pragmatic (the thing is hollow, the losses require additional depth) but it is also the soul of the piece. If the whole thing had been carved from a single tree it would have gone directly from material to broken old jersey barrier. Because of the construction you get to know the piece as both a brand new barrier and an old one. So that the wounds of the thing — where the rebar pokes out — are felt as an event more than a picture.

Sapling Tree came soon after the Jersey Barrier. I’m really interested in your reading of the piece as an old man, or as a lifespan. I’m interested because it relates pretty directly to what I’ve just been saying about the Jersey Barrier, but wasn’t something I’d thought about with this piece.

For me this piece begins with the codependent relationship between the stakes and the tree. If this were a real tree the stakes would themselves be stable (they would be driven into the ground so that they stand independently) and they would support the tree while it was young. I’d thought about making a sculpture of a sapling for a while before I realized that the codependency of the three parts would be the driving sculptural idea: it would be a table and every leg would depend on every other to stand. This is why the straps are at the same level, and why they are totally horizontal, and why they are the same length.

I thought of this as a kind of tenderness, and this again is interesting in light of your observations. As opposed to the authority of the Jersey Barrier, which is rather unresponsive I think, the stakes’ authority is symbiotic and tender. I tell my dog what to do and where to go because I love her. That this piece started for me with a thought process about control, and continues for you as a thought process about aging and care is, I think, pretty much right on.

I think this idea of tenderness also has a lot to do with your question about the pruned ends of the branches.
Is it purposeful that the support band is an infinity loop, or a Moebius Strip? 

The Moebius strip is intentional, but to be honest I’m not sure how exactly it fits in. It seemed necessary. 

Were you thinking of a particular tree, or type of tree?

Yes and no. When I get it in my head to make something I become kind of obsessed and look at everyone I see to pick out the best parts. This happened with the boulder at Steve Turner, it happened with the Jersey Barrier, and with a sculpture of a palm tree I made.So the tree becomes a combination of all the best parts of all the saplings I’d been looking at.

What is the wood you use in these carvings?

Sapling Tree is maple (because it can handle the fine detail and delicacy of the straps without breaking). Jersey barrier is Alder. Stack of Chairs is Basswood, which is a soft wood for carving.

Now the Stack of Chairs. I love your idea about Nauman/Whiteread. The reason I love it is that for me this whole sculpture was about how much of the empty space between chairs to carve out, and how much to leave. If I carved a lot it would be more like a portrait bust with open lips, where the empty space of the mouth implies that the whole interior of the subject’s body has been carved out, too. The lungs and all, so that it can breath. If I carved less, the thing would be a totem pole, a single object. Thought of as a collection of pieces, but actually a single thing. In the end I think it leans more towards the latter, but hopefully both ideas remain.

Connecting that to the Nauman cast space beneath (the empty space, rendered so completely as to be the opposite, and solid) is great, and sort of makes the whole thing make sense. It also right now makes me think that maybe Rachel Whiteread’s addition to Nauman is just to make it all so mournful. Or maybe that is just something that casting does by itself.

I also like the idea that, as a stack of chairs, they might hold within them all the political/personal relationships they would be deployed to facilitate (a classroom, a church, a group therapy session, a caucus, etc.)

I love Brancusi, and definitely thought about endless column while I was making the piece.

I hope these thoughts are helpful. If you’d like to come by the studio some time next month I’d love to talk more with you about these and other things.

Best,

IR

Isaac Resnikoff, Jersey Barrier, installation view at M+B Gallery, linked

Isaac Resnikoff, Jersey Barrier, installation view at M+B Gallery, linked

from Geoff Tuck
to Isaac Resnikoff
date Thu, Jul 28, 2011 at 11:45 PM
subject Re:
mailed-by gmail.com
Dear Isaac,

Your responses are wonderful. I hope it doesn’t make you nervous if I tell you that I am honored and flattered and excited. Now I want to return and look again! Thank you!!

And oh lord do I appreciate your interest and willingness to recognize my voice and its place and to consider these things in your reply.

I will certainly come by the studio next month – let me know when please.

Perhaps you will understand when I ask another question of you – a favor actually: would you allow me to use our email exchange on Notes on Looking? It seems you are familiar with my writing on the website and so you can imagine how this q & a will complement work that I have been doing to document and explore the work of Los Angeles artists.

Regarding another email conversation that I recently posted, this with Jill Newman, Jill tells me that she admires my willingness to be vulnerable and wanted to respond to my questions of her in that spirit of openness. She laughed and told me she was taken aback at her own words and yet still is very happy with the results.

I will understand if you are hesitant but I am hopeful that you will agree that this is an enlightening and interesting way to view your work, and with three major pieces on view right now posting this might give people another way in to your practice.

I completely run the risk of saying too much and screwing this all up, so I will now shut up.

If you’d like to talk about this feel free to call me.

And of course you may always reach me by email.

I’ll keep my fingers crossed until I hear from you one way or another.

All my best,

Geoff

Isaac Resnikoff, view of studio, from his website, which is linked

Isaac Resnikoff, view of studio, from his website, which is linked

from Isaac Resnikoff
to Geoff Tuck
date Fri, Jul 29, 2011 at 12:53 PM
subject Re: Re:
mailed-by gmail.com
signed-by gmail.com
Important mainly because of your interaction with messages in the conversation.

Hey geoff,

That would be great, I’d be honored.

We’ll talk soon about a studio visit.

Best,

IR

www.isaacresnikoff.info

Sent from my iPhone

Isaac Resnikoff has work in the exhibition The New Verisimilitude (through August 20) at

Francois Ghebaly: 2600 La Cienega Blvd., 90034

M+B Fine Art: 612 N. Almont Drive, West Hollywood, 90069

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *