Thursday, 1 June 2017

The Crumpled Ball

I've hit upon an idea. A very good idea, which is not entirely mine but borrowed. Martin Creed, a conceptual artist, was the first to accomplish something of the kind in '94, however, I think, having come late to Work 88, there were flaws in his design.
Marginal flaws you understand, possibly to my eyes and way of thinking alone. Minimalism was perhaps part of the concept, whereas I felt it lacked a deeper layer. A layer of intrigue. A layer that begged to be opened on receipt, thereby destroying the art yet keeping the concept very much alive and intact.
The Work, in the hands of a buyer, being changed back to its original form: an A4 piece of paper, except now noticeably marked like an aged person's skin. The wrinkles and crinkles unable to be smoothed out and its sheen distinctly faded so that it appears more dulled than pristine white. Prematurely aged and wasted. And not even used.
Are people who have invested as tempted to undo as I would be? Had I seen it, known about it, wanted it at the time of its creation and so purchased for a small fee one of its limited number, then curiosity would definitely get the better of me because I wouldn't be satisfied that a ball was it, even if it was a perfect sphere. I would assume that it concealed and something more would be revealed at its heart. Perhaps that's what you're led to think and if so, then the object as art has done its job. Could the concept be about willpower and temptation? And even gratification – who can delay it and who cannot - and would any actual buyers follow through? Would any dare admit to it? Probably not. And who would ask them anyway? Collectors don't get questioned, they get interviewed, and either show off everything they've acquired or sell it off to the highest bidder: someone they know they can make big(ger) bucks from. Whether collectors buy for the love of or because of what one day it might be worth is a moot point, however, what it essentially means is they would probably have the Work on display but not allowed it to be touched or handled in such a way that its roundedness, in this instance, becomes something other.
And that, I don't think I can bear. A demi-god made of existing materials which, outside of the art world, has a utilitarian purpose, which is not to say its new untouchable status is the fault of the artist; no, it's the critics, the audience. Often, an artist is unconcerned with all that. Their concept has been freed from the cage where it was housed for the public and critics to make of it what they will. A shoe will never be looked at in the same way again or a slept-in bed. A paper clip will no longer just be an object to hold papers together, nor will a crumpled ball of A4 paper just be an thrown away error.
Conceptual art, as it's first viewed , can be taken at face, and of course, monetary value depending on the artist, whereas I, no matter who the creator was, would want to liberate it further, and not just in thought but in deed.
Would I purposely vandalize? Not, I can assure you, if it wasn't mine, as in purchased, nor probably even then, though the temptation to do so would be present forever, but then I don't think I would buy a piece of conceptual art if the object itself was also utilitarian in design because ironically the concept, whatever I thought the thought behind it was, would disintegrate over time. I might see its cleverness, but might also think it futile. I wouldn't want it to become a prized possession of mine.
In art, I need depth, visual depth, and bizarrely not all conceptual art, for me, has that. Thought, yes, sometimes in bucket-loads, but a Work, at least in its outward appearance, can't be expected to hold that for all time. In a nutshell: once considered, it's gone, it doesn't live on. Unless, of course, for you it's a brand new discovery. It can make you pause but can it make you stop? Each and every time? Won't there be times when you just see it for what it once was?
What was my borrowed idea? Oh that, well, it involves a scrunched up ball of published book material shoved through the letterboxes of random addresses.

Picture credit: Work88: A sheet of A4 paper crumpled into a ball,  1994, Martin Creed