The Handyman Aesthetic: The Re-Emergence of Artists Using the Subordinate Material of the City in the Gallery

By Keith Winter.

Published by The Arts Collection

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

To place the fabric of the city in the gallery is to draw out a comparison between the city as a machine-whole and the breakdown of its elementary units. The 1960’s Factualists (Klüver) presented everyday objects from a Postmodern New York permitting a transference of what was not art to become art (following Dada and Duchamp) - contrasted between the clean lines of Judd’s ordered and highly-polished sense of postmodern representation and the roughness of Oldenburg, blurring the boundary between detritus and artwork. City streets became the sourcing ground for l’objet d’art and critics extracted the political messages buried deep within the embodied energy of metal, burlap, cardboard and paint. Fifty years on, amidst the fashion of deconstructivism in building design, designers are consumed by the idea of surprise and trickery, the invention of an architectural gimmick, like a magician or illusionist. The affordance of the city to provide concept and meaning to the artist runs low, particularly in the tired, re-branded realms of relational processes drawing on the unsuspecting participation of a public.

Emerging are a new breed of artists who are resisting the cheap deconstructivist illusion, exercising a process-led methodology, a technique of simply ‘making’, challenging value and use of material. In particular, the work of three artists; Oscar Tuazon (Tacoma/Paris), Gedi Sibony (New York) and Michal Budny (Warsaw), begins to hint towards a future representation of space, a curious arrangement of experiments, building blocks made out of subordinate construction materials. It is possible to acquire an epiphenomenal reading of their work in order to understand what has come from the city – to the gallery – and can return back to the city, to learn from their forms and use of material at a time when it is increasingly difficult to read our globalized built-environments.

Keywords: Oscar Tuazon, Gedi Sibony, Michal Budny, Handyman Aesthetic, London

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp.151-170. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.697MB).

Keith Winter

PhD Researcher, Faculty of Art, Design and the Built Environment, University of Ulster, Belfast, UK

I am a practice-based PhD researcher at University of Ulster in 2nd Year. As an artist my work plays with mythology in the production of space. I aim to create factitious representations of dissonant spaces, to alter histories and when appropriate, establish a feral territorialisation using temporal boundaries and interruption. I use installation, sculpture, performance and zine-making to present a distorted sense of reality in the present with an idea of the future. Recently I have exhibited my work in ‘Table of Contents’, LSAD Gallery, Limerick (October 2010); ‘Arrivals’, Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast (July 2010); Scope Art Fair, New York, (March 2010); Scopophobia’, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, (November 2009); Elham Arts Festival, Fort Museum, Bahrain (May 2009), Red Hand’, 2009 ARC Brisbane Biennale, Brisbane, (October, 2009); upcoming shows include Catalyst Arts in Summer 2011 and Chiyoda 3331, Tokyo in October 2011. In 2005 I co-founded a public space project entitled ‘Cuboid’ and in 2008 I co-founded the Belfast gallery ‘Space Delawab’. I also play in the band Not Squares.

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