Lawrence Weiner Made to Produce a Spark

From 27 March 2006 to 30 July 2006

Concetto, Corpo e Sogno (Concept, Body and Dream)

Curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev

March 27 – July 30, 2006

Concetto, Corpo e Sogno (Concept, Body and Dream) is a series of five exhibitions which will be held successively throughout the spring and summer of 2006. Solo shows will be dedicated to conceptual artists. Each exhibition gathers together works and more recent, or previously unseen projects, and is accompanied by an interview with each artist.

Thanks to the support of the Fondazione CRT Progetto Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, many of the works exhibited have become part of the museum’s permanent collection.

For Lawrence Weiner, “art is the empirical fact of the relationships of objects to objects in relation to human beings and not dependent upon historical precedent for either use or legitimacy.”

In other words, he is a sculptor, and his work focuses primarily on investigating how we experience the materiality of being, the relationship between people and objects. Our appreciation of it does not rely on connoisseurship, and its value is not contingent on its physical existence in the world. The artist believes that his work need not necessarily be realized in concrete form, but may remain at the stage of artistic intent; a concept expressed in his STATEMENTS of 1968/69:

1.THE ARTIST MAY CONSTRUCT THE WORK

2.THE WORK MAY BE FABRICATED

3.THE WORK NEED NOT BE BUILT

EACH BEING EQUAL AND CONSISTENT WITH THE INTENT OF THE ARTIST THE DECISION AS TO CONDITION RESTS WITH THE RECEIVER UPON THE OCCASION OF RECEIVERSHIP.

“The work need not be built,” but it can be built, if you want to make it -it does not have to remain at the stage of an artist’s intention expressed in words.

Lawrence Weiner was born in the Bronx, New York in 1942. He spent the late 1950s and early 1960s travelling around the US, Mexico and Canada, and in 1960 mounted his first solo exhibition in Mill Valley, California. During the second half of the 1960s and throughout the 1970s, he captured the attention of the art world with his installations, artist’s books, and theoretical ideas. He is one of the foremost Conceptual artists. By de-materializing the art object into the realm of language and experience, his work contributed to freeing art from any specific media and techniques. His words – written over buildings, on gallery walls, in artist’s books, on buttons, sung by a Country & Western band or included on DVD animations – are presentations of possible artworks that can appear in innumerable forms. By simply presenting words in space, using them to describe or define sculptures through the material processes that would constitute them, Weiner presents works that reflect the quality of a space, and exemplify art liberated from traditional sculptural conventions.

His exhibition at the Castello di Rivoli features two early works, located in gallery 20 on the second floor of the castle, as well as a new project, sited on the castle stairway. For the latter, Weiner thought about the experience of visitors walking up the stairs, looking at different artworks, or capturing glimpses from different points of view and heights along the central stairwell, and making sense of this fragmented experience. He came up with the work MADE TO PRODUCE A SPARK (2006). Because the piece is built backwards, the words of the title are the first you experience when walking up the stairs, wrapping yourself around the core of the space, taking in fragments of meaning as you go along, until you reach the top, where you find the beginning of the piece: A GENTLE RAIN (CAPTURED). You might think of the helix form, and its philosophical connotations (something that wraps around itself,) or about the hydroelectricity that is produced in the mountains above Rivoli, or of how the experience of artworks is constituted by a ‘spark’ in one’s consciousness produced by materials to which something has been done (as rain is ‘captured’,) but any metaphor is less the intention of the artist than the result of the receiver’s freedom of experiencing it in whichever way he or she pleases. For A REMOVAL OF THE CORNER OF A RUG IN USE (1969), in gallery 20, you could conceivably take a rug that is currently in use, remove its corner and exhibit it in a gallery, and this would constitute the work in one of its possible conditions. Or, as in this presentation, you could choose to write the words on the wall, referring through language only to the materials with which it might be made.

A work such as …IN AS MUCH AS /IN AS MUCH AS … (1972) poses a more abstract challenge, weighing as it does the experience of a material condition prior to a comparison against the experience of a comparison prior to a material condition: the work could imaginatively be built in many different ways …

The artist’s work is thus vulnerable, dependent, as in a relationship, upon the “receiver” (the audience, collector, museum, public or, more generally, the ‘other’ who experiences it.) Weiner’s art is in essence not prescriptive, nor authoritarian, but vertiginously open.

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev

From 27 March 2006 to 30 July 2006