Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Richard Nonas & emotional objects

"Language and culture are tools to take a complicated world and make it understandable, break it up and categorize it, understand it. But there are things language can't say easily that I feel the need to say. So in every culture we find that there are built-in escape valves: religion on one hand, art on the other. The production of art, in my mind, thinking as an anthropologist, is a way of saying the things that can't be said directly, or evoking the complex emotion between the named emotions, or combinations of the named emotions that themselves don't have names. Perceptions and emotions, those are categories that need to be broken into, or skewed, and art is an acceptable way to do it, a way that you are not punished for. The only visual art that interests me is the art that is conveying something that it would not be able to convey directly with words."

When was the first time you had the impulse to create an object that conveyed something without words?
"Before I worked in Mexico, I was in north Canada. I brought back a sled dog. And I found myself picking up pieces of wood for him to play with. One day I picked up two pieces of wood, and there was real emotion there, and not story, no narrative, no reason for that emotion. I could describe the emotion, not in a single word, but there was real emotion. Not fake, not conceptual. But it was just two sticks. I thought, Wow, maybe it's possible to communicate abstract ideas directly with objects, in a way you can't with words. I got really excited, trying and making things, but I never thought about art. Then, two or three months later, a friend of a friend came to my apartment and said, 'You idiot, it's called sculpture!'"
- from a Scott Indrisek interview with Richard Nonas for Modern Painters, September 2014

Richard Nonas - installation view of Between Old Times: Sculpture for a Changing Castle-for Bronilow Malinowski (birch logs, each three fee long) 1991

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