Gabriel Yacoub's Boxes
December 1, 2004 2:59 PM   Subscribe

Found objects as art. This French singer/songwriter collects items from the mundane to the sublime and arranges them in boxes - be sure to visit the gallery and see some of these most unusual creations.
posted by livingsanctuary (8 comments total)

 
Reminds me of Joseph Cornell, for obvious reasons.
posted by mmcg at 4:24 PM on December 1, 2004


In a desperately nerdy way, they remind me of the works of Wintermute ... or at least how I envisioned them.

On preview, mmcg nailed it with the Joseph Cornell link.
posted by 5MeoCMP at 4:25 PM on December 1, 2004


Interestingly I was just discussing Found Art the other day with a friend. We concluded it was symptomatic of a fetishizing of the artistic temperament. There is a strange compulsion some people have to constantly assert their artistic sensibilities. I'm not sure the wellspring of this urge but it seems related to a fawning and sycophantic adoration of all things slapped with the dictum "Art." Appellation seems to be another branch of this, constantly expanding the domain of "Art" outward until all is within their purview. It seems a pernicious trend to esteem an action so highly and covet its fruits so greatly. I think this attitude is indicative of a paradoxical yen to be a conduit for some transcendental, mystical, and transformative genius/daemon and a resentment about such a tyrannical and anachronistic concept. Is there perhaps a little schadenfreude on the artists part towards those who furrow their brows in a vain attempt to understand the work. Is the artist perhaps getting his revenge for societies impositions and demands for craft to accompany his art and meaning to imbue it.

Furthermore is Found Art even art? It seems to lack some of the traditional staples of the art world, coherency, beauty, artistic statement, artistic voice. It particularly lacks artistic voice, for how can object created by another capture the true unique complexities of the inner essence. Even if one piece should have artistic voice this style would likely be sacrificed on the next piece whose components came from a different source. The fact that these objects were created by another also raises the question of who gets the credit for creating the art, the person who fashioned the objects or the person who stuck them in a museum. Who in this case is the artist. Is art a matter of fiat or does it have some deeper essence. Similarly when does the object become art. Is it at the moment that the artist used his magical touch to make it so or was the object always art. If the latter the category of art would be so broad as to be meaningless, for all objects would be art pieces simply waiting for their artist. Such art also seems to lack a organizing principle or meaning. One generally must be familiar with the artists entire portfolio in order to extract any semblance of meaning. I'm not sure any work of art that cannot stand on its own is art. Furthermore if the meaning is not contained within the work itself what is it that makes a piece art. The questions raised by denoting something like Found Art as Art are myriad.

All of this posturing smacks of an artistic hagiography to replace what was formerly confessional autobiography. The artist becomes a law unto himself with infinity broad domain and the power to confer credibility on all he touches. This would seem to reduce art to a mere appeal to authority. The resentment the romantics genius to and the attempt dilute art's power with peripheral objects paradoxically has entrenched it. Rather than egalitarian, art is now aristocratic. If Found Art is indeed art, as it probably is by the Emersonian definition of all that is not utilitarian, I think it quite poor art.
posted by Endymion at 6:59 PM on December 1, 2004


Mark Dion's work does, I think, operate as art having an organizing principle. Art, science, natural history, and archaeology come to bear. The act of organizing forms the work. I first became familiar with Dion through this exhibit at the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis. Another of his past projects is New England Digs.

Dion's current projects include this one at MoMA (unfortunately there are no images of the Rescue Archaeology work). His work is also on view at the Tate Modern. I wouldn't hesitate to call Dion's work art. And beautiful.
posted by gonzesse at 9:56 PM on December 1, 2004


It's pretty early in the morning but what the hell. I agree, Endymion, that the Duchampian ideal of the artist who merely points at some object and says "this is art" is more interesting as an idea, to be bandied about over whiskies, than as a true basis for art. But, in my opinion, using found objects and creating something from them that is new and provocative is no different than using other raw materials such as paint, canvas, wood, marble, etc. to create a work of art. These boxes aren't simply a urinal placed in a museum, there appears to be thought put into the presentation and some embellishing as well (paint, framing, etc.) and while I've only glanced at this gallery, I would argue that not all art that uses found objects is a fraud (as it seems you are suggesting) based on elitist posturing.
posted by sic at 10:48 PM on December 1, 2004


I love the work pointed to in this post, and I'm curious, endymion, whether you are reacting to what you see here, or just generally expanding on that earlier conversation you happen to have had. I, too, find myself often impatient with the pretensions of clever "Art", but Yacoub's boxes don't come anywhere close to tripping that wire. In fact, quite the opposite.
posted by taz at 2:35 AM on December 2, 2004


"This double-sided cabinet houses the artifacts retrieved during the Tate Thames Dig. One side contains items found at Millbank, the other those from Bankside. The cabinet is in the style of nineteenth-century display furniture still found in many museums. However, Dion has not labelled any of the objects, allowing the visitor to form their own ideas about them."
Actually I think an idea like placing the mental conception of a piece in the hands of the audience is rather old and based somewhat on the idea of democratizing the art world. Thus it is the viewer who becomes the artist. Furthermore as far as a as artist principle goes such things seem scarecely more artistic than a rorschach, free association or madlib.
"In witnessing the digs themselves, it is evident that there is a distinct type of energy that prevails throughout the process, as people relish in the excitement of each new find. After the digs, each artifact is revisited again and discovered anew during the cleaning and classification stages. The process then comes to its fruition as the objects enter their final resting place, the finished display cabinets. In the end, the objects have traveled full circle from being once useful things to becoming trash to treasure to artwork. . ."
I think the last line is a further demonstration of the magical touch of artists. I don't want to single out Mark Dion but from the links I'm not sure what differentiates it from archeology, that winds up in a museum as well and the artifacts can be quite beautiful.
But, in my opinion, using found objects and creating something from them that is new and provocative is no different than using other raw materials such as paint, canvas, wood, marble, etc. to create a work of art. These boxes aren't simply a urinal placed in a museum, there appears to be thought put into the presentation and some embellishing as well (paint, framing, etc.) and while I've only glanced at this gallery, I would argue that not all art that uses found objects is a fraud (as it seems you are suggesting) based on elitist posturing.
I would agree largely, although the primary difference between traditional canvas works and found art seems to be in the amount of individual creation done by the artist versus that done by the fabricator of the object. Is paint-by-numbers art?
I love the work pointed to in this post, and I'm curious, endymion, whether you are reacting to what you see here, or just generally expanding on that earlier conversation you happen to have had.

I confess I was expounding upon that earlier conversation, which actually began as more of a psychological deconstruction of the drives of those bloggers who fetishize poetry only to move on to found art. But I like to recycle my conversations in order to do my part to conserve our precious natural resources. I did look at the links though, and actually found some of them quite attractive. As far as Found Art goes these are some of the better I've seen. I just thought that with 100+ posts in every politics thread an art discussion might break the flow.
posted by Endymion at 8:39 AM on December 2, 2004


While trying to avoid a lengthy discussion about what art is, I'm going to have to object to your claim that found art is not art. You recognize that the entire idea of found art raises many questions about what art is. Isn't one of the purposes of Art to stimulate thought/discussion?

"One must generally be familiar with an artists entire portfolio to extract any semblance of meaning."
I can tell you I've never seen any artist's entire portfolio, and I've gotten quite a bit more than a "semblance of meaning" out of art over the years. I've found that the meaning, or at least my interpretation of the intentional meaning, of the artist increases as I see more of their work, but is the intended meaning the only worthwhile one? Can I not look at someone's work and find meaning contradictory to what was intended? Is that invalid?

Furthermore on the authorship of the work, one of the things that interests me with found art is the interplay between the original creator of a work and the one that integrates it into a new work. Are you no longer the creator of a painting because someone else constructed your paints? I've found that contrary to creating a aristocratic atmosphere, the integration of art from other artists is a humbling affair. By allowing a piece of a work to be created by another, you're removing the appeal to your authority by recognizing that the work is not wholly yours. In the same fashion, I'd say that no expression is entirely one's own, as they are all regurgitation of experiences.

"Actually I think an idea like placing the mental conception of a piece in the hands of the audience is rather old"...
Maybe it's old, but it's unavoidable. You can't force people to think what you intended them to think.

"Is paint-by-numbers art?"
Does everyone stay within the lines? Does everyone use the same colors? Does everyone finish the painting? These factor into how much personal creativity/expression is in the work, and change it's meaning. I don't know, does that make it art?

Personally, though, I'm less concerned about what gets called Art, and more concerned about what I like and why I like it. To paraphrase you, your posturing smacks of an attempt to replace what was formerly the consideration of the merit of an individual work with what is allowed to be called Art.
posted by nTeleKy at 10:49 AM on December 2, 2004


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