Being In the World: Milk, Pollen, Rice and Wax: Interacting With the Installation Art of Wolfgang Laib

By Susan Scarlata.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In his introduction to Wolfgang Laib’s Retrospective Catalogue Klaus Ottmann posits that Laib, “an artist who deliberately defies classification,” might best be approached phenomenologically (Ottman 12). Ottman goes further to claim that experiencing Laib’s installation pieces, which utilize pollen, milk, beeswax and rice as primary materials, necessitates the use of Edmund Husserl’s phenomenological “reduction,” or bracketing oneself off from the world in order to experience it. Ottman’s discussion does not consider any of the phenomenal thinkers who followed and revised Husserl’s original principles, and thus it misses many pertinent connections between Wolfgang Laib’s work and this mode of philosophical thought. Laib’s work is so instantly awe inspiring that after interacting with it one cannot help but wonder how it was made and conceived. And applying phenomenological thought to it can help piece out the many levels of thought with which the work is engaged. Yet I believe, and this paper posits, that Laib’s work is more an aid for illustrating phenomenology than vice versa.

Keywords: Installation Art, Participatory Art, Phenomenology

The International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.147-150. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 478.626KB).

Susan Scarlata

Graduate TA, English Department, University of Denver, Denver, CO, USA

Susan Scarlata is a Poet and an Educator. She holds an MFA in the Literary Arts from Brown University and she is persuing her PhD in English and Creative Writing at the University of Denver. She is also the Program Director at a non-profit writing program for urban youth in Denver. Susan is interested in all art forms, and in investigating the roles the arts play in people's lives. She is currently studying poetic philosophy and enjoys considering the relationships between artistic processes, various artistic mediums, and the theories that exist behind works of art.


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