May 22, 2005

Unrealized Unrealized Projects

I had a small piece in the Times today about artists' unrealized projects, which is really based on the interviewing work of the curator Hans Ulrich Obrist. Unlike architects' unbuilt projects, Obrist notes, which are published, debated, and considered critically important [look at the examples of Zaha Hadid or Thom Mayne, whose reputations were built largely on projects that weren't], artists' unrealized projects are invisible, almost a shame or a failure. Obrist is seeking to reconsider these projects.

These projects can feed, inform, or reveal the artistís process; or as Obrist puts it, they "show the artist negotiating with reality." And in some cases, the examining them has led to their renewal and fruition. Here are a few more unrealized projects I gleaned from Obrist's interviews (mostly from his most recent compilation, the 964-page Hans Ulrich Obrist Interviews, Volume 1) that didn't make it into the paper:

Maurizio Cattelan
made a proposal in 1992 to distribute posters and flyers advertising a non-existent Nazi skinhead rally was actually rejected twice, by curators in the Swedish city of Sonsbeck in 1992, and again by a New York gallery organizing an exhibition on the theme of fear. [Actually three times if you count being cut from this article.] "It was a way to use information to spread fear: it was a psychological lab in real life," the artist recounted.

Chantal Akerman In 1997, "when there was some hope of peace in Israel," the artist explains, she wrote a script and scouted film locations in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, but her producer was lukewarm to the project. "If I were to resume that project today, it would instead be about the impossibility of filming the Middle East."

Gabriel Orozco: Aguapracasa is a 1996 design for a house centered on a spherical pool, based on the 18th-century Jantar Mantar observatory complex in Jaipur, India. Since 1996, the artist found a place to build it, near the ocean in Mexico. "It is a house for me," Orozco says. "This one is a work in progress."

Yoko Ono:
Sometimes a project is only partly realized. Though her 1999 sculpture Freight Train has been exhibited in museums, Ono's plan is "to hook it up to a train that goes to different countries in Europe, and for it to visit every city in Europe that way. Each time it stops in a city or a town, I want people to see the train and write about their memories of what happened."

Olafur Eliasson: "Yes, I think my life in general is a yet-unrealized project. This is, let's say, the bottom line." Of his interest in anti-gravity or his desire to make a botanical garden in a climate-controlled dome, the artist explains, "Ideas like this come and go every day," and they're all in "the big mixture-process-soup."

Roni Horn: "My future is my unrealized road. And there are always those footnotes I haven't gotten toólike dust collecting in the corner."

Art of The Undone [nyt]
not related: whatever about my piece, the interviews with the Star Wars and Herbie nerds totally rock.

[update: Sarah has good questions, which I answer as best I can, on Forward Retreat]

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

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greg [at] greg [dot ] org

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first published: May 22, 2005.

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