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The Project II.

Hello, it's me again!

(If you missed the previous post then you might want to head over there first - but you do you... I won't tell anyone.)

Lawrence Weiner

Mr. Lawrence is one of the key figures of Conceptual Art (which first emerged as an Art movement in the 1960s, but most sources trace it all the way back to Marcel Duchamp, 1917).

Lawrence is best known for his text-based art, but do not be fooled - in his career he has done so much more - paintings, sculptures, statements, …and although his work is mostly text-based, he still describes his practise as sculpture, where words are his material of choice.


Figure 1. Poster for Weiner's Exhibition in Prague, 2002 (Or, when I was right about '4 and a half' years old.)


Jonathan Ellery, the London designer who was mentioned in the previous post, met the American Conceptualist pioneer, Weiner, by chance in a Berlin Bar – they happened to have a fruitful conversation, which led to friendship and a collaborative book publication ‘HERE IT IS HERE IT AINT’ (2018).

It is not hard to identify which pieces were contributed by each of the two artists. Still, their work flows together in seductive harmony. It is almost as if the reader gets to eavesdrop on one of their conversations, which the artists masterfully recorded using fragments of words, photographs, abstractions, drawings, and objects.


Figure 2. Here it is Here it ain't, 2018



Figure 3. Lawrence Weiner Showcase


Perhaps even more interesting than the practise itself is Weiner’s way of thinking.


Does it bother you when people try to see a deeper meaning?

“They’re looking for something else and I have no idea why. There’s no metaphor in any work of mine. There’s no secret in the words. You have to look at the work — if it could be told in language, I would’ve used language.”


Like the famous Wittgenstein quote: “The only thing of value is a thing you cannot say, but you can see.”

“Right, there’s no way to misinterpret ‘stone,’ or ‘wood,’ or ‘water.’ There is a way of misinterpreting ‘love,’ ‘affection,’ and ‘desire.’ But that doesn’t concern me as an artist — that’s for literature. This is a problem: when you use language instead of words, it means that the words no longer fulfil what you need, so you need the gesture, but then there’s no way to translate it back into words! When a person on the street makes a hand gesture, there is no way to explain what it means, because it doesn’t really mean what you think it means, it means what they think it means.

(Interview - TheTaks, 2019)


“The work gains its sculptural qualities by being read, not by being written. Each work itself is the result of material experimentation, material building, translation—translation into language and then the presentation is whatever affords itself.“

(Interview - ArtSpace, 2017)



Simona Blahutová

Czech artist (based in Prague) with a strong interest in the events of modern history, which are usually explained in terms of black and white, despite having no simple answer.


Simona is no stranger to language anagrams, which is best represented by her “Do you love my husband, Miss?” (2006) artwork. The phrase originated from a women’s magazine, where it was used as a title for an article about marital infidelity. The artist transformed this silly title into an even more bizarre command by rearranging the letters. The final outcome spelled out: “Love my husband!” Thanks to its absurdity and incomprehensible irritability this statement became the core of her next exhibition.


Figure 4. Do you love my husband, Miss?, 2006


“It was a follow up from the previous year, when I also worked with language anagrams, newspaper clippings and snippets of advertisements. Then I linked the text to references to my childhood in the 80s. Like most kids, I loved the changeable flip-flop images and especially the neon signs in town. In the gray times of fading socialism, however, it used to be an unpleasant rule that some letters on the neon lights did not shine.

The inscription "Do you love my husband, Miss?" was cast from resin, with uncoloured letters imitating broken neons from the communist era. I had about a thousand pieces of lenticular cards / flip-flops / made with the same changing sentence and gave them out to whoever I met in the street. I created a series of anonymous portraits that were related and communicated with each other. When they were placed under the sign, it gave them a new meaning.

A laminate inscription with a number of portraits and self-portraits of invited authors were exhibited in the AVU gallery at the Academy of Fine Arts. However, my real (not yet realized) intention was to install a neon sign, machine-made on a larger scale, in the public space of the big city. There it would blend among other neon signs, perhaps fit in, many would pass by unnoticed. However, the subtly provocative answer, which is hidden in a vague and at first sight incomprehensible question, could gently disrupt the overflow of tedious advertising we tend to ignore due to its aggressive nature.”

(Oujezdský, 2006)



Jonathan Monk

Jonathan Monk is a British Berlin-based artist and a familiar affair in the world of Contemporary art. Monk’s practise includes photography, film, painting, and sculpture. Meanwhile the topics of context, appropriation, and originality always find their way into his work.


Restaurant Drawings are perhaps the most notable body of work in Monk’s portfolio. This ongoing compilation of restaurant receipts began roughly five years ago during a stint in Rome. The project creates a complete circuit, enabling Jonathan to keep busy creating drawings on receipts - which themselves are illustrations of other artworks by the likes of Jenny Holzer, Lawrence Weiner, Barbara Kruger, Donald Rudd, Sol LeWitt, Jasper Johns, Marcel Duchamp, Sherrie Levine, Richard Prince, On Kawara, and many more… which are then posted on Instagram for salefor the price of the bill - allowing Jonathan and his family to dine for free. Essentially, whoever buys the artwork pays for the meal.

(*The collection was also published in a book format by Karma in 2019.)


Figure 5. Restaurant Drawings, Instagram


This is arguably the most genius use of Instagram – as a utility and a currency – instead of a distraction during family activities. (Has anyone ever thought of that as a business model?)


A few quotes from the artist:


"It became obvious the drawings should cost the price of the actual dinner they represented, basically asking collectors to buy me dinner. Each drawing presented the work of others."

"Authorship is an altered Wikipedia site, truth a controlled substance. Originality is a thing of the past—once the work is out in the world, it is there for everyone to sample."

"As I get older I understand the logic of our search for uniqueness. But I’m honestly not sure it’s even important."


(Konrad, s.d.)



The Royal Studio

The founder of the studio is João “Tae” Castro, a Communication Designer, Art Director, Creative Strategist and Vandal at The Royal Studio and a Teacher at ESAD Matosinhos.


"I find pleasure on building experiences for the public, trying to bring onboard as many creatives, scientists and developers as I possibly can."

- João (GO Youth Blog, 2015)


João's journey was heavily influenced by grafitti, and the nature of things - medicine and organs, DNA, and naturally the Cartoon Network’s Dexter's Laboratory. Soon grafitti became such a passion that João decided to quit his Biology career and dive into Communication Design instead. After, his first industry breakthrough (a solo exhibition at Galeria Dama Aflita) The Royal Studio was born as it made it’s debut as a facebook page and Behance account. Opening up a social debate, among friends, projects and clients on the digital social platforms.

(GO Youth Blog, 2015)



Figure 6. How to Bomb the U.S. Govt, 2016


What the heck is The Royal Studio about, anyway?

João - "Loyal to culture, Royal to business."

"The whole goal of The Royal Studio is to build experiences and reach the ultimate goals of any clients project. Above any traditional category in which you can place a design studio (Editorial, Advertising, Branding, Web Design, etc), I’d state I can only fit in the “visual system” category as I like every project to be built to it’s full potential. I would say Visual Systems, sense it’s a flexible approach that can extend a single logo to a whole company and it’s advertising needs in any of the traditional or digital media. That’s the focus: to build a strong sense of identity and a joyful and conscious experience to the final public."

(GO Youth Blog, 2015)


How does The Royal Studio start off their projects and what is the process like?


Everything starts with a piece of paper filled with topics. Laying down all the goals and building the project from the bottom up with words.


Stating the intention, hypothesis, goals, process and outcome.


This is followed up by visual mood boards representing the aesthetic and feeling of the strategy to follow. After that, it is time to start building the team - setting up guidlines for an independent or a collaborative approach.


Other necessary ingredients include: Good studio-client relationship, healthy sweets and drinks, good conversation, a visit to the cinema, a poetic research through architecture and the perfect beat to dance and shout to.

(GO Youth Blog, 2015)


Figure 7. Better Half, 2020


"Better Half is a brilliant short film about the lengths one will go to escape a loveless marriage. Written & directed by Pete Johnson & Adam Jones." (TheRoyalStudio, s.d.)



Figure 8. Everything, Everyone, Everywhere, 2020



"Everything, Everyone Everywhere is a project that visualizes outcomes from lives that could have been but never were, built strictly from noting bits of conversations from strangers while traveling in their commute. An ongoing visual reflection about the supermundane, instrumentalizing stolen thoughts in their respective time, to build a satiric critique around a globalized state of meaning. [Update Covid-19 Pandemic 2020] Everything, Everyone Everywhere was a humorous punch on a globalized identity crisis that turned into a universal call for empathy amid a pandemic reality. From sarcasm to a universal call for unity, it is as contextual as it initially intended."

(TheRoyalStudio, s.d.)



Figure 9. The Dishonest Manifest, 2014


The Dishonest Manifest

"The unknown is the key. Taking it as a manifest regarding the global language, the beauty of globalisation, and how pure form tends to overlap conceptual meaning. You'll enjoy it for the visuals. If you get the language, you'll notice the poster is in fact the acknowledgement of not knowing a single detail about it. All of them. Ultimately we are telling you how ignorant you might be: though it doesnt matter - you'll love it. Though they are a serious compilation of posters for single events and clients.


Close up of Figure 9.


You may never eat cheese, Palestine may never find understanding, Europe may never be on time, Berlin and Viena may never play it fair, we may never speak japanese in the day nor at night, and we may not give a fuck about content.

Maybe we are lying, though the client never does.

We are dishonest ladies & gentlemen, But we love a good concept & steroids."

(TheRoyalStudio, s.d.)



(Catch ya at the next stop, mate!)


List of Illustrations

Figure 1. Gandy Gallery. (2002) ‘Poster for Weiner's Exhibition in Prague'. At: https://www.gandy-gallery.com/exhibitions/praha/lawrence-weiner-001/


Figure 2. Browns Editions. (2018) 'Here it is Here it ain't'. At: https://brownseditions.com/product/here-it-is-here-it-aint/


Figure 3. Various. (s.d.) 'Lawrence Weiner Showcase'. At: https://renaissancesociety.org/exhibitions/292/lawrence-weiner/ https://www.lissongallery.com/artists/lawrence-weiner

https://www.mo-artgallery.nl/weinerplhr.htm


Figure 4. Blahutova, S (2006) 'Do you love my husband, Miss?'. At: http://www.si-mona.eu/gallery/slecno,-milujete-meho-muze/


Figure 5. Monk, J (s.d.) 'Restaurant Drawings'. At: https://www.instagram.com/monkpictures/?hl=en


Figure 6. The Royal Studio (2016) 'How to Bomb the U.S. Govt'. At: https://theroyalstudio.com/Home


Figure 7. The Royal Studio (2020) 'Better Half'. At: https://www.behance.net/gallery/105711493/Better-Half


Figure 8. The Royal Studio (2020) 'Everything, Everyone, Everywhere'. At: https://www.behance.net/gallery/96512221/Everything-Everyone-Everywhere


Figure 9. The Royal Studio (2014) 'The Dishonest Manifest'. At: https://www.behance.net/gallery/20508851/The-Dishonest-Manifest



Bibliography


Artspace (2017) ‘Art Is Not About Skill’: Benjamin Buchloh Interviews Lawrence Weiner On His Sensual Approach to Conceptual Art. At: https://www.artspace.com/magazine/art_101/book_report/art-is-not-about-skill-benjamin-buchloh-interviews-lawrence-weiner-on-his-sensual-approach-to-54588 (Accessed 04/03/2021).


GO Youth Blog (2015) Founder Interview: with João ‘Tae’ Castro from The Royal Studio. At: https://medium.com/@GOYouthBlog/founder-interview-with-jo%C3%A3o-tae-castro-from-the-royal-studio-46e39a4b54c (Accessed 12/03/2021).


Konrad, L. (s.d.) Jonathan Monk on why originality is a thing of the past. At: https://www.collecteurs.com/article/jonathan-monk-on-why-originality-is-a-thing-of-the-past (Accessed 12/03/2021).


Oujezdský, K. (2006) Slečno, milujete mého muže ?. At: https://vltava.rozhlas.cz/slecno-milujete-meho-muze-5087421 (Accessed 12/03/2021).


TheRoyalStudio (s.d.) The Royal Studio. At: https://www.behance.net/royalstudio (Accessed 12/03/2021).


TheTalks (2019) Lawrence Weiner. At: https://the-talks.com/interview/lawrence-weiner/ (Accessed 04/03/2021).


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