Exhibition statement was printed on edible wafer paper with edible inks
Since the beginning of human history, art has been used as a vehicle to reach immortality, or at the very least as a way of communicating to future generations. For millennia the nature of art has been its permanent form, its existence in the tangible, and ability to transcend time. The art object has been passed down from generation to generation, and cherished as a messenger from the past, and fetishized for its beauty and wonder.
But what of art now? Artists are continuously pushing the boundaries of what we accept as art by creating work that is not object-oriented, like site-specific installations, performances in public spaces, concept-driven pieces that might not even exist in object form, but purely ideas, or actions. And as there are no actual objects that remain after the artistic gesture has occurred, oftentimes the only way to keep a record of the existence of our generation’s artistic output is by documenting it. And the documentation of the artistic act becomes the only aspect of the work that remains and can be passed down. In which case, the document takes the place of the artwork, but can never really capture and represent the original.
How will the innovations in art creation be passed on if there is no documentation? What will art history books look like in the future if there will be no record of artistic actions from our present? Or maybe the temporality of art is as inherent to its nature as is that of human life. Are we just kidding ourselves about the permanence of art, and its value to future generations? For a Limited Time Only explores the ephemeral nature of art, and by extension, humanity’s imprint and the artist’s mark, through works that will exist only for the extent of the exhibition. The projects deteriorate, or even disintegrate completely, during the course of the show.
For a Limited Time Only concentrates on the urgency of the work, and encourages the artists, as well as audiences, to consider these projects philosophically, focusing primarily on the idea of the work as temporary experience rather than artistic mark, and memory rather than document.
In Marci Rubin’s installation, whose practice investigates the transformation between states, we see the gradual decay and eventual disappearance of a world, in this case the world of bees. Not only does her work here underline the fragile balance in which bees reside, but also their importance to the stability of our own ecology and environment. Over the course of the exhibit, Marci’s biodegradable materials will dissolve in water, leaving behind only remnants similar to ruins of past civilizations, hinting at a bleak future.
Jess Witte evokes mortality and futility through the Sisyphean task of assembling a large-scale bird-seed doily around the foot of a tree in the outdoor sculpture park. Through the meticulous and time-consuming task of creating a visually beautiful and ornate arrangement of seeds, and its quick disappearance as birds and vermin eat it, the story of humanity’s struggle with its fate emerges – our lives are spent in the laborious process of creating the illusion of meaning, which quickly disappears with our death.
The elaborate construction by Wendy Kveck, composed of food products and visual allusions to meals perfect for the gourmand in us all, references our relationship with food and consumption in general, the decadence of our society as it drowns in its excesses. The rituals of over-consumption and indulgence, (like the all-you- can-eat buffets in Las Vegas where Kveck resides and works) are methods we use to fight the anxiety of meaninglessness, but are ultimately ephemeral experiences of pleasure that need not only to be maintained, but constantly surpassed, thus adding to our dependence on stuff and the consumer culture for which the US is notorious.
Another installation that ends up in ruins is Annie Heckman’s piece based in the bone chapels of Europe, elaborate architectural constructions decorated of human bones, reminding us of our transience. Annie’s piece is an ornate structure built out of paper bones, and constructed like a house of cards, meant to collapse unpredictably at any point during the course of the show leaving behind a heap of ruins, much like human culture, which exists more in a collective memory and some remains, than in actual documents we have accumulated over the past five millennia since the advent of the written word.
In your hands you are holding Shawn Stucky’s project: an edible exhibit brochure. This project is our way of subverting the contemporary fetish of documenting ephemeral pieces through the “permanent forms” of photography or film, cataloguing or essaying. We thus question usefulness of documentation, and the reason that we cling to it so desperately. Should we give in to the illusion of permanence with hopes that our work (and therefore our existence) remains in the annals of history, as short as it may be, or accept its temporality, but maximize our momentary experience and cultivate our memory of it. This show wants to entertain the latter model. We invite you to humor us by consuming this brochure upon reading it.