Oct 17, 2011

TREND| Found Art

Michael Johansson, "Ghost", White objects, 2009
Four years ago when I became a studio art undergraduate student, I learned for the first time about the intriguing world of found art. The concept of found art takes place when everyday objects, discovered  in the real world and usually considered “trash” by most people, are taken out of their original context and transformed into works of art. These objects can be things we have seen hundreds of times, or even used hundreds of times, without really noticing or making judgments about them. Chairs, hair combs, and soda cans take on new meaning when an artist takes and presents them to us in a way that makes us take the time to ponder them and think about the world around us.

Michael Johansson works with found objects as seen in his artwork called “ghost”. This particular art piece, along with many of his other artworks, is extremely organized, even to the point where Johansson eliminates gaps and spaces in between each of the found objects. Even though the found objects themselves may not be rectangular, the piece is affixed into a large, perfect rectangle with several other rectangles inside. This sculptural like piece of artwork gives a whole new meaning to the word “organized”. Johansson claims that, “The unique and unknown origin of the object increases my desire to want the double-the unlikelihood of this sensation repeating itself produces an attraction that is too strong to resist.”  You can find many doubles of the objects in “ghost”. Johansson is able to re-contextualize existing objects into compositions that reflect a new perception of reality.

The next image was created by Tim Noble and Sue Webster and is an example of shadow art created from what people would consider junk. The piece is a pile of “Rubbish”, with light projected onto it to create a shadow image that is completely different than what the pile of rubbish looks like in reality. This image along with their other art pieces, skirts the boundaries between beauty and the more “shadowy” aspects of human life. These two artists allow the viewer to ironically look at trash in a different light. 

Tim Noble, Sue Webster, "Life is Rubbish", 2002

Doris Salcedo, Installation for the 8th Istanbul Biennale, 2003

The work of artist Doris Salcedo is based on the Colombian War, and in her installation for the 8th Istanbul Biennale (2003) she piled up 1,550 wooden chairs in an empty space between two buildings in central Istanbul to represent a mass grave. The chairs represent the faceless migrants who have globalised our economy, but at the same time also represent the space that humans occupy. When relating these chairs to war, they demonstrate how fragile life is because each chair is being crushed by the other chairs on top of it.

The Dadaists of the 1910’s were the original trend setters who incorporated found objects and images into their works. The most famous and radical artist to use this trend is perhaps Marcel Duchamp, who displayed a ceramic urinal in 1917 which he entitled ‘Fountain’ . This was a very controversial issue in the art world, because how could something that was already produced and manufactured and was used in almost every home be considered art?  However, today we do see that found objects can be art, and this is proven in the works of Michael Johansson, Tim Noble, Sue Webster, Doris Salcedo, and many other contemporary artists who reflect on modern consumer culture and materialism. 

-Katrina Runge

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