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