Sunday, 7 January 2018

The horse trotted another couple of meters, then it stopped (2018) Katharina Grosse

The Horse trotted another couple of meters, then it stopped (2018) 

Katharina Grosse

Cariageworks, Sydney. 6 Jan to 8 April 2018.

from the outside
First of all, what is that title all about? Many of Grosse’s titles are elusive and enigmatic, and that is deliberate. She is fond of using stage directions, pieces of poetry or snippets of writings as titles. So think about the absurdity of the title in juxtaposition with the artwork, but don’t try to find the horse.
I went to the artists’s talk on Sat 6th Jan, and it is always quite insightful to hear an artist speak about her own work. Her intention and how she sees the works, how she imagines the work to be seen by others can be quite different to how the rest of us see her work.

In this case her installation of meters (8250 m2) of (initially) white fabric, spray painted in layers of bright colours is immersive (we can all agree on that). The fabric had been carefully assembled in voluminous soft folds on the floor of the Carriageworks hall, then huge ‘pinches’ of fabric have been hauled up to the roof space and suspended there. The result is a ‘room’ of softly draped walls, no roof, and a floor of folds, tucks and pleats. Visitors enter through gaps in the fabric, and walk on the fabric of the installation. (some of us walked barefoot, which was sort of nice – to really feel the creases and undulations of the artwork). Once the whole structure was complete in space, the spray painting began.
Grosse spoke with the curator of the exhibition and Director of Carriageworks. At one point, the curator spent quite a bit of time talking about how she saw the work – don’t know that that was entirely necessary – we were there to hear from the artist.
Grosse commented on the influence of Edvard Munch (liberation of the canvas from the frame) and Pina Bausch (dynamism in art). For Grosse, painting is an architectural practice. This particular work had many developmental stages, sewing, engineering etc. At each stage there were many precise questions raised – usually had nothing to do with the art of the work, but the logistics. She also believes that there is an energy within an artwork when that work is ‘not quite right’ when it has an aspect of the paranormal. The energy with this artwork comes from the suspension of these big pinches of fabric. There are swathes of fabric creating beautiful curved lines as the fabric stretches from 1 pylon to another.

a big 'pinch'
On entry to the artwork, one’s attention is elevated to see how far up the artwork stretches. But then with the first step, one must look down to negotiate the trip hazards of the tucked and piled up fabric. The spray paint was applied after the fabric was arranged in folds on the ground. As a result, the fabric which is ‘hidden’ has stayed white. As everyone walks on the surface, some scuffing and displacement occurs, and the white areas are revealed. How will this effect play out over time? More scuffing and lifting/moving of the fabric will possibly continue to happen for a time – a few days, a week or so? But I wonder whether there will become a time when the compression effect of many visitors will pack the fabric down, and the pattern of colour and white will become more stable.

on the floor
It is very interesting to see textile being used within a painterly installation. The textile here is still very much a canvas, not a piece of fabric as it may be seen in textile art. Is it purely because the artist is known for her painting first and foremost, rather than for any sort of textile manipulation and/or textile sensitivity? Is it because paint is applied to the textile? Is it because of the ‘unfussiness’ of the draping? Is it because the textile canvas is meant to be secondary to the painting element? It is taking the canvas off the frame, it is still being treated as a canvas – it is not being treated as a textile.

There is a video of the installation available here.

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