Process vs. Product Part 1
"The more I went into the world, the more I felt that art is the most important thing, and therefore I became an artist." ~ WOLFGANG LAIB Last Friday evening my boyfriend and I visited the MOMA - it's one of my favorite museums. And for those of you who don't know Fridays after 4pm are free...but oh sweet baby Jesus is it crowded! I felt like I was a sardine or even worse in Times Square. It was like trying to navigate on a crowded subway car but around people, beautiful sculptures, and paintings. However, each time I go to the MOMA a different piece becomes my favorite or an old fav speaks to me in a new way. This time when I entered there was a large platform that had a bright yellow center in the middle. I glanced at it a bit dismissively and made my way upstairs. While walking towards the paintings I really wanted to see I looked down and got a whole new prospective of the yellow pool (that is what I had nicknamed it in my mind). It was striking and bright the color was very amazing and going with the pool theme I just wanted to jump in. Ok - definitely worth a second and longer look. Then I continued on to see Warhol, Monet, Picasso and many others. Towards the end of our museum outing (cut a little short because I was about to punch some tourists in the face) we walked by a flat screen TV showing a clip. It was a 2-3 minute documentary on the making of the yellow pool. Only the piece was called Pollen from Hazelnut by Wolfgang Laib. I was captivated by his process of making this installation piece. Mr. Laib collects pollen from nature and for this work it was hazelnut. He goes to the plants and lightly brushes at them putting their small offerings in a glass jar. It takes him years to collect the pollen. For this work the entire piece was made of pollen all 18 by 21 feet! What he collects in the jar he sifted it to the floor a very elaborate and delicate process. The documentary was made from when he had made a smaller version of the piece in his studio in Germany but he had not done it before for such a large space. I talked to the guard next to the exhibit and gleamed that it took the artist 2 days and 5 hours each day sifting the pollen into art. I researched the artist more and found this interview: http://www.artinamericamagazine.com/news-opinion/conversations/2013-02-27/wolfgang-laib-moma/.
A blurb I really thought fit the piece well was when the interviewer mentioned that the artist calls his work beautiful. Liab responded "Artists hate that word, especially German artists. If you wanted to be really hated in Germany, then you would say, 'My work is beautiful.' German artists believe in ugliness and nastiness. I think beauty can be something extremely important in our lives. And it's not true that this is naive. This is what is the most needed: inner beauty and outer beauty, which is an incredible challenge for us." (Bold font completely mine I really resonated with that part.) I was fascinated and this piece was hands down my favorite for this particular visit. But it also got me thinking on its own with no history/details or even being able to see how he made it - I don't think I would have liked it as much. His process is what fascinated me and the product was a nice result but seeing how he cultivated his own bright yellow from nature was a strong impact of why I was drawn to the piece. He had created something so beautiful but for me the thought, time and effort were interwoven on why it was inspiring. I couldn't help but parallel this to theatre... and more to come on that for Part 2.
Wolfgang Laib. Installing Pollen from Hazelnut in the Marron Atrium at The Museum of Modern Art, 2013. Photographs by Jason Mandella. ; Wolfgang Laib. Installing Pollen from Hazelnut in the Marron Atrium at The Museum of Modern Art, 2013. Photograph by Jason Mandella