Imagine you’re a surgeon and you’re getting ready to perform a quadruple bypass. Difficult enough on a good day, but now you’re told that you must do the operation without the use of your most trusted tool, the scalpel. That makes things a bit more challenging, no?
The stakes aren’t quite that high at Studio &’s latest artistic extravaganza, but the concept is similar. For “Extinct: The Art of Obsolescence,” 26 artists were asked to create new works without using their most trusted tools – painters forewent brushes and/or paint, sculptors went without clay and a performance artist (Adriana Cubides) even removed herself from her own performance.
“Each artist was asked to make a piece about extinction or obsolescence,” said Tim Kapustka, a founding member artist of &. “The artists were asked to identify a vital tool they use and then proceed as if that tool was extinct.”
For example, Kapustka, who is a graphic designer, set aside his otherwise indispensable computer and instead created a freestanding sculpture of incandescent light bulbs. The piece conforms to the theme twice over – not only did he not use his primary tool, but the subjects of the sculpture themselves are obsolete and no longer available to consumers.
Other pieces aren’t as obvious in their forfeitures:
Rosie Carter substituted tin for paper in her wall sculpture. The piece looks like any of her three-dimensional creations, but the metal actually makes the piece much more durable.
Heather Martinez, who recently has worked with vintage typewriters to create unique paper designs, made a wall-size print using no mechanism at all.
Conversely, Minna Jain, a photographer and creator of “wearable sculpture,” went low tech with an old Remington ledger-sized typewriter augmented with pen and ink/watercolor illustrations of her ancestral Scandanavian Sami people.
Jain said she took inspiration from Wendell Berry’s poem “Damage,” which laments the loss of culture through technology.
“If we’ve got tools but inadequate culture ... the more our power expands without us being able to handle it,” Jain said. “I’ve been having a lot of fun with this – to focus on a tool or medium I don’t use, working with computers all the time. A lot of the artists I’ve talked to are having that experience, too.”
“Extinct” continues a tradition at & for creating innovative exhibitions that began in 2010 with “24 Durango.” The themes in ensuing years were “From: The Art of Where You are From (2011), “Previously Entitled” (2012) and “Year: A Brief Underview of the History of Time (2013).