Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Brilliant Inside-out art from Tara Donovan

I recently e-stumbled upon photos from what looks like rather a splendid art exhibition.

The Artist is Tara Donovan, at the Institute of Contemporary Art.

I very very much like the playing off between artificial/organic: very clever. The above sculpture is made from styrofoam cups, yet its undulating shape belies the regularity of its constituent parts.

When you look at another of Donovan's pieces – Moire – the pattern becomes clearer.

Here, rolls of adding machine paper are wound and piled in such a way as to create complex, amorphous shapes. Have a closer look:

There is a heavy suggestion of wood grain, as well as – in common with Untitled (Styrofoam Cups) – of cellular structures.

To me, there's a lovely inside-outness to the whole thing. A kind of moebius effect (as illustrated here), whereby inside seamlessly becomes outside. Paper made from wood is compressed and manipulated to become wood again. Wood-like forms piled together become cells, from which wood is formed.

In other words, the artifacts Donovan has constructed from these manmade objects remind us of organic cellular structures. Which in turn remind us that all things – manmade or naturally occurring – are in fact irregular and organic at a molecular or cellular level. If you zoom in close enough, in other words.

So the straight lines and 'perfect' forms of the manmade objects are somehow thrown into deep relief. The work very cleverly challenges the misconception that there is a distinction between the geometric/regular and the organic/irregular. Both contain and are contained by one another. A straight line is a series of curves; a curve is a series of straight lines.

It's all a question of scale.

Fantastically inventive and intelligent. The work also passes the (more important test): just imagine how fascinating it would be to a child. It is hugely striking. Engaging on a visceral level. These are powerful, mesmerising forms.



Anonymous said...

Looks like fun work to encounter. I enjoyed your analysis of it, especially where you say the real test is how would a child react, which is just what I was wondering!

Oh, by the way, I found you through Henk Ter Heinde's See Me Draw showcase.

Good post.

Billicatons said...

Thanks, a.decker ... Yes, I wish I'd been able to see the art in person, rather than onscreen.

I think every art critic should take a band of kids around with him/her, and gauge their reactions.

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