Visiting Artist Talk: Margaret Honda



Some notes from Margaret Honda’s lecture last week. Don’t forget, we’ve got Jenny Odell here tonight. Her talk starts at seven.

  • Honda talks about her show An Answer to ‘Sculptures,’ which appeared at Künstlerhaus Bremen earlier this year. We see two cloth works: Big Mr. Elephant and Brown Puppy IV. The position of Big Mr. Elephant on the top of a table tilted against the wall was proposed by one of the gallery staff: the artist needed a surface that would display the object so that it wasn’t on the floor; so that it was ambiguous but still suggested what it was (the ‘skin’ of a giant cloth toy animal, unstuffed). It was too tall and large for a pedestal. The table was suggested. Good! On-the-spot solution.
  • the Puppy draped across a pedestal almost touching the ground on both sides – a symmetrical distance from the ground on each side, clear folds, a very clean drape.
  • she shows us a photograph of the original childhood elephant stuffed toy next to the artwork, looking at it. It happened that the cloth skin she made in imitation of the toy Mr Elephant was seventeen times larger than him when she measured it.  Seventeen times larger became her measure of size for stuffed animal pieces. Original elephant looks fluffed and hunched in comparison.
  • then re-using the puppy in a show with shorter pedestals – the body was supported on one pedestal and then a droop and then the head was on another
  • an ottoman on a pedestal in the same show. Her father made this ottoman, finding four legs first, then keeping them for ten years until he discovered the right seat. Interesting, she said, that he had waited faithfully over a decade for a seat that might never have appeared.
  • [referring to one of her films, Spectrum Reverse Spectrum, 2014] – you can run it forwards and backwards, a film-palindrome: this doesn’t happen with digital. The fact that physical film is harmed when it is played. It gathers marks and dust. As a sculptural object it was displayed on a pedestal at the Hammer Museum when it was not being screened.
  • Melting down an old sculpture, Fish Trap,  1989, into ingots: the ingots are now a new sculpture. Shown again, the ingots are re-melted into yet another new sculpture of ingots. Fish Trap was in a museum collection. The museum let her take it away and make the change, but there was confusion when she returned it because a work with three objects had become a work with five objects and now it had to be accessioned over again with a new number.
  • old sculptures covered with paper and photographed to turn them into new, photographic works: old floating-in-pond works disassembled and turned into new works with multiple pieces that lie on the floor of a gallery like broken sections of a chassis.
  • a picture of her Color Correction, 2015 – a 101-minute film of pure color  – being scheduled between The Jungle and Straight Outta Compton. The incongruity of that. People laugh.

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