I am so jazzed about Lucy Skaer's Resin Translation it's almost crazy.
I found out about Skaer's project, realized for the 9th Mercosul Bienal in Porto Allegre, Brazil, via Prem Krishnamurthy's top ten list for the Walker Art Center. [The The Year According To _____ Series is still ongoing, and is great, and I am stoked that the Walker folks asked me to contribute a list. More on this self-promotional point later.]
Anyway. Skaer worked with the local paper and forestry company Celulose Irani, to alter some molds used to process eucalyptus resin, which is sold in bulk for further processing and production. Instead of rectangular ingots, Skaer created a faceted mold, which resulted in several gem-shaped 25kg blocks per day entering Irani's normal production and distribution channels. Skaer's forms get processed like all the rest, including the ingots temporarily diverted to the exhibition.
The process kind of reminds me of an early Gabriel Orozco project, Made in Belgium, where he manipulated and altered mass-produced terra cotta roof tiles on an assembly line just before they went into the kiln. Orozco was disrupting the industrial process, usupring it to make his own fleeting artistic gestures permanent. Skaer has done just the opposite in almost every respect.
As the Bienal site put it,
By adding a degree of poetry into an assembly line and drawing no distinctions between product and artwork, Skaer's project raises the question of whether art has a capacity to raise, and not solely represent or encapsulate, political and ontological relationships.And Prem:
Skaer's elegant insertion offers us a glimmer of other potentialities for art's place in the contemporary world -- rather than consisting of rarefied objects, art might occur in the ephemeral ruptures of everyday life, in forms surprising, slippery, and stunning.As much as I want to have some of these beautiful objects, the best part is knowing that they will intercede briefly in life of a factory worker somewhere else in Brazil, catching his eye as he dumps another palette of resin into a tank and turns up the heat.
Lucy Skaer, Resin Tranlsation, 2013 [9bienalmercosul.art.br]
The Year According to Prem Krishnamurthy [blogs.walkerart.org]
"Harlequin Is As Harlequin Does," Skaer's 2012 show at Murray Guy had familiar shapes [murrayguy]
Celulose Irani also provided all the cardboard boxes to remake Tony Smith's giant Bat Cave at Mercosul [irani.com.br]