Take-Away Art Gets “Twice Removed”

February 16, 2011 · Print This Article

GUEST POST BY ELIZABETH CORR

A few weeks ago, some friends and I attended the opening of Twice Removed: A Survey of Take Away Work at Golden Age. I was excited to see a show entirely dedicated to this concept, a concept that one of my favorite artists, Félix González-Torres, explored throughout his career.

Curator Karly Wildenhaus requested submissions of take away art from the personal collections of individuals, and not surprisingly, she amassed a great set of work hailing from places as far away as London and Antwerp, in addition to more local pieces from Chicago, Minneapolis, and Brooklyn, to name a few. (You can read the full exhibition description here and see additional images from the show.)

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of audience participation and multiplicity in art – two ideas which take away art knowingly references, but then pushes to a new level by creating an entirely removable installation.

What’s so compelling about the take away object is that audience participation is fundamental to the pieces’ meaning as a whole. The viewer, at zero cost, leaves with a multiple, and at the artist’s encouragement, is sent out into the world to re-appropriate the object in whatever way they see fit. This element of freedom, and the open-ended nature of the artwork’s new life, is both exciting and disruptive to the ways in which people traditionally experience art (i.e. in an institutional setting).

As an integral component of the work, viewers are invited to step into the role of collector, a role traditionally inaccessible to the masses for a variety of reasons. And for this particular moment, the “new collectors” dictate the rules of the game by choosing when, where and how to display their newfound pieces, all the while challenging the idea that increased production (many multiples) devalues artwork both in a market sense and in an ideological sense.

Twice Removed draws attention to all of these issues, bringing together an impressive selection of work from well known artists such as Félix González-Torres, Bruce Nauman and Adrian Piper, while also including the work of lesser known artists such as Rivane Neuenschwander (I’m still regretting not having a chance to see her show at the New Museum this past summer).

Walking through the show, I found myself not necessarily thinking about what it meant for these objects to be literally “twice removed” (initially from the museum or gallery, and then yet again by Karly for the purposes of this show), but instead lost in thought about the period in between – what life was like for the object inside the collector’s home. Sure, displaying the work as individual pieces this second time around reinforces the transient nature of take away art, and highlights how insubstantial the materials actually are (candy, postcards, pins, ribbon etc.). But, the pieces I was most drawn to were those that the collector had personalized, imbuing the object with an additional layer of meaning and sentimentality.

One great example came in the form of a homemade candy box. This particular collector visited the Guggenheim numerous times to see Félix González-Torres’ piece Untitled (“Public Opinion”). Each time he went, he gathered a piece of black licorice candy, and once happy with the quantity accumulated, created a display case for them. I loved seeing the transformation from the original installation to this collector’s interpretation, although it definitely made me wish that I hadn’t just haphazardly eaten my Félix González-Torres candies.

It’s been weeks since I saw the show, and I really haven’t stopped thinking about it since. The weather is starting to improve, so make the trek to Golden Age to see Twice Removed before it’s over. If for some reason you can’t make it, there will be an accompanying website and pamphlet published by Golden Age after the show’s run.

Elizabeth Corr received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in African Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her graduate work focused on contemporary African art in post-apartheid South Africa. She lives in Chicago and works at NRDC, an environmental nonprofit.




“Twice Removed” Exhibition Seeks Submissions of Take-Away Artwork

December 21, 2010 · Print This Article

I like the concept of this exhibition so much I had to blog it here – the more submissions the organizers receive, the better this show will be, don’t you think? Karly Wildenhaus, who runs the invaluable online Chicago visual arts calendar On the Make, is currently working with Golden Age on an exhibition of individual pieces of “take-away” art. The show is called Twice Removed. Right now, Karly is seeking submissions of take-away art from personal collections. All submissions (if accepted) must be mailed or dropped off at Golden Age by January 18th. Full details below. If you’ve got one of Félix González-Torres’ pieces of candy lying around – now’s the time to share! (Funny – I never thought of saving mine. I just thoughtlessly ate it. What is wrong with me??).

Encountering the “take away” artwork, consisting of unlimited or large-run editions whose individual pieces are free for the taking, has become a common occurrence in contemporary art exhibitions. A strategy notably employed in Félix González-Torres’ “stack” works, the take away has been used by many other artists with a variety of intents and forms. The spirit of generosity, an exploration of dispersion and the attempt to circumvent the art market are just a few of the potential motivations cited for generating take away works. Twice Removed aims to provide a venue where the multiplicity of meanings and post-exhibition life implied by the take away model can be considered by exhibiting single units of these works together.

The project will take form as an exhibition, website and pamphlet to be published by Golden Age at the conclusion of the show.

Golden Age is soliciting individual pieces of take away artworks from personal collections for temporary loan during the length of the exhibition. To contribute, please send a brief description of your items for further submission and loan information. Items must be received by mail or dropped off at Golden Age’s location in Chicago by January 18, 2011. Any further questions? Contact karly@shopgoldenage.com.