Nari Ward: In Large Part

March 19, 2016

I get inspired by things that don’t fit in (Nari Ward, Spirit of the Street, Financial Times, December 4, 2015).

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Photo: Nari Ward, Iron Heavens, 1995 (oven pans and burnt wooden bats)  in www.aestheticamagazine.com

Ward’s dramatic sculptural installations are composed of systematically collected material from his urban neighborhood. By revealing the numerous emotions inherent within found everyday objects, Ward’s works examine issues surrounding race, poverty, and consumer culture (nariwardstudio.com).

Nari Ward’s giant productions of found and reassembled objects are larger than life, despite being composed of everyday materials. He executes large scale physical constructions to evoke an experience of resonance within the reconfiguration of daily existence. His artistic residence is New York (although Jamaican-born) and the repercussions of his art are significant for all kinds of places and for all people. Ward explores the power of objects, their social formation, and their significance as cultural icons. He encounters chosen items and makes them other worldly, despite them being firmly entrenched within the crafting of human experience. His practical manipulation of matter is executed through labouring with a material. Each element holds an impression of his bodily contact, the personal markings of time spent in connection.

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Photo: Artist Nari Ward on His Latest New York Show, http://www.architecturaldigest.com, November 2, 2015

It’s all about engaging emotions. I want to take that energy and propel it into some other form (Artist Nari Ward on His Latest New York Show, http://www.architecturaldigest.com, text by Thessaly La Force, November 2, 2015).

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Photo: Nari Ward, Saviour, 1996 (garbage bags, cloth, bottles, shopping carts, mirror, chair, clocks) Pérez Art Museum, Miami

I need that mind/body connection that happens with labour and repetition. You get lost in it to the point where ideas come to you (Nari Ward, Spirit of the Street, Financial Times, December 4, 2015)

Ward’s example is a call for art therapists to thing “big” in regards to reassembling found and domestic finds. The objects compose a collection, a diary of events related to finding materials and also importing a sense of personal significance, where ordinary becomes something else. The installation of these large works reside within a locality, each piece a strident voice proclaiming an occupation of space and a demonstration of personal and social issues. Within art therapy putting ourselves out there can become a commitment to large scale exposure, not to be missed.

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Miguel Angel Blanco has developed a collection of wooden boxes as a forest library, containing the findings from intentionally symbolic walks. These collections are his journals imprinted with journeys taken from the past thirty years. The Biblioteca del Bosque (Library of the Forest) is housed in the basement of his home in Madrid. Miguel’s walks are primarily taken within the Guadarrama Mountains outside of Madrid. The library as a whole is an evolving sculpture, it is also an ecology of life, documenting Miguel’s communications with nature.

His library comprises more than a thousand wooden “book-boxes” each of which is a reliquary or cabinet containing the objects and substances (snakeskin, quartz crystals, resin, elm leaf) gathered along the course of a particular walk. Each of these micro-terrains represents a completed journey; but the library itself – ever growing – is a compound pilgrimage without visible end (Robert Mcfarlane, ‘Rites of Way: Behind the Pilgrimage Revival’, The Guardian, June, 2012).

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Miguel Angel Blanco, Artist Statement

The Library as sculpturing life project, is a work open to nature’s vastness, carried out with the same slowness and steadiness with which a tree grows, a symbiosis between the right angle and the biologic form. I share with oriental art the wish to achieve an organic composition, in which fullness represents substance and emptiness the circulation of vital breaths, joining in this way the finite and the infinite, like creation itself. Maybe the goal of the work could be to understand the universe’s secret language, to create a great mystery from the starting point of a piece of fern or a drop of resin. To be an echo of the ephemeral. To establish communication with the universe and receive an answer from it…

Art is experience. The simple action of walking about the forest’s paths opens the eyes to the essential, increases receptivity and tunes the senses. The walker is on the watch, on a constant alert, trying to see in the landscape more than the usual, expanding reality. The forest creates an inner state of serenity, pureness and optimism (Miguel Angel Blanco, The Forest’s Library, http://www.bibliotecadelbosque.net/la-biblioteca-del-bosque/)

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The idea of a book being a collection of objects that are ideas, moments of time, landscape, and movements held within a box vessel, can be a vital medium of artistic practice within art therapy. A walk can be taken alone on accompanied by others within an art therapy journey that involves the surrounding habitat within a rite of discovery. The words of thought and feeling held within the significance of objects selected, illustrate and enact a psychological quest. This is a language of wandering and finding significance in what is close at hand. The book is an installation that can be handled and read in many ways. Time is contained within the dimensions of the book’s architecture. The composition of the book, reveals itself as a structural building, a home place for an ephemeral story.

Miguel Angel Blanco, Artist Statement

The book, ultimate tool for the transmission of knowledge, is not composed of words in my case. The language spoken is another. It is the fragment of nature capable of communicating a whole world, which words can only approach. Silent invocations. All components of my books originate in nature’s realms, even the wood of the boxes and the different papers – subtle transformation of wooden hearts – of the pages on which I draw. In fact, books have an important relationship with trees, even etymologically, for the Latin word liber (= book) also means the living part of the tree’s bark….

The box is a small recondite sanctuary, a sancta sanctorum. Sealed with glass, hermetic, to preserve its contents, it is at the same time ark, essence-container, shrine and crucible. Moss, lichen, barks, needles, pine cones, pollen, brambles, fungi, wax, roots, earth, minerals or resins are some of the materials I have collected. Materials that liberate secret images. Unfathomable abysses, deep lakes, infinite spaces, storms, creeks, fires… may open inside a small box. One may even contemplate the creation of the universe in a drop of resin. Microlandscapes. The box-book is the memory of the immemorial. But we will never be able to span the infinity of the inner dimension (Miguel Angel Blanco, The Forest’s Library, http://www.bibliotecadelbosque.net/la-biblioteca-del-bosque/).

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References

Miguel Angel Blanco, Biblioteca del Bosque http://www.bibliotecadelbosque.net/la-biblioteca-del-bosque/

Robert Mcfarlane, The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot.