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Saturday, 24 March 2007

It's been done!

I have encountered just a couple of comment-worthy news items in the last week or so, both of which put me in mind of a Punch cartoon I saw aeons ago. A sculptor atop what is obviously his Magnum Opus, a towering work of great height and complexity. Marble chips are flying from his chisel. We are on his eye-level. A diminutive figure many feet below is looking up and calling to him: "It's been done!".
It seems that Martina Navratilova has been working with artist Juraj Kralik on a painting to show at the Roland-Garros Stadium. Her part in its creation was to hit paint-soaked tennis balls at a large canvas pasted to a wall. To judge by the photograph, the result is a wonderful impression of a wall splattered with paint-soaked tennis balls. A strong feeling of déjà vu ensued, though the artists who sprang to mind (Bridget Riley, Vasarley, Michael Banks, Ibbison, Sarah Hughes) would no doubt have been offended by the comparison. Maybe this was a case of the process being more important than the outcome? Or Martina's real part had something to do with publicity for Juraj? Or Juraj hit upon (pun intended) the method as a means of achieving a degree of randomness? If the latter, he might have chosen someone with less accuracy to their hitting. But if Martina was in fact chosen for her accuracy, could not he have chosen a more efficient means of delivering the paint blobs?
The other news item was in some ways like unto it. Another German artist (if Juraj is, indeed German), H. A. Schult has produced something that at a glance looks remarkably like a certain famous Chinese army, though his figures are composed of rubbish and called “Trash People”. Impressive, but again, if one forgets the method, it's definitely been done before. I do wonder, though, if something of the title has been lost in translation: is material that has been recycled as something as useful as an installation, still rubbish? I leave it with you.

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