Bringing art to the people

If you aren’t familiar with the work of Thomas Hirshhorn, take this time to check out his latest project in the Bronx. The first time I experienced Hirshorn’s work in person was at the Vancouver Art Gallery in an exhibition called The Mirror’s Edge curated by Okwui Enwezor. Hirshorn’s work was in a space that is not usually accessible to the public. You literally went behind the walls of the gallery into a storage space of sorts to see a set-up comprised of many random phoographs, collages, plants and a lot of aluminum foil. I was unable to find any documentation of this exhibition or Hirshorn’s work at the VAG but the work Cavemanman gives you a good idea of what I saw in the closet. These works make me think of one of my favourite books, Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space where Bachelard writes on the metaphoric impact of spaces such as closets and drawers.In following his tradition of using unusual spaces, Hirshhorn’s first public art piece in North America is installed in the Bronx. The work is part of a series of monuments dedicated to four philosophers, this one is for Gramsci (the others being Spinoza, Deleuze and Bataille). Hirshhorn is an extremely political artist, with one of his main causes being art itself. Here is a quote from Hirshhorn about doing the project in the Bronx:

“I tell them, ‘This is not to serve your community, per se, but it is to serve art, and my reasons for wanting to do these things are purely personal artistic reasons,'” Mr. Hirschhorn said. “My goal or my dream is not so much about changing the situation of the people who help me, but about showing the power of art to make people think about issues they otherwise wouldn’t have thought about.”

I love the idea that Thomas Hirshhorn is conducting an ‘art school’ at the monument throughout the summer. How much fun would that be to go to Art School with Thomas Hirshhorn? Often Hirshorn’s work is visually overwhelming but he has some extremely thoughtful and interesting ideas and is uncompromising in his desire to express himself. An earlier piece called Superficial Engagement would give you a good sense of the kind of work that established Hirshhorn as an internationally renown artist. This short film will give you an idea of Thomas Hirshhorn how thinks about art and himself as an artist. Hirshhorn’s work is heavily extremely embedded with thoughts and meaning and it deserves some time to absorb despite that it is at times extremely challenging to embrace as a visual whole.



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