Emptiness

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This work can be temporarily found in the home of one of the artists of the Unintentional Art Movement. At first sight it appears to be an empty kitchen paper roll, standing on the kitchen counter of what presumably is the artist’s kitchen. Despite its recognizable, lean design the work contains a couple of strong elements, making it a daring and valuable part of the UAM oeuvre.

The empty paper roll symbolizes the individual whose freedom is permanently restrained. We think we are free, yet we are stuck, trapped in structures, rules and other boundaries that limit our ability to fully decide on how to live our lives. The roll is helpless. It cannot set itself free, but can only escape its “iron prisoner” through the intervention of a higher being or an external energy (for instance a gust of wind).

The fact that the kitchen paper roll is empty cannot be misunderstood. Both the trapped, modern individual as our current way of life are nearing a dead end. The rat race, defining our Western society, is just like the kitchen paper holder a structure where its participants cannot escape from. We are all working relentlessly, with no clear goal and with both our days passing by and our natural resources depleted. Just like this roll we are nearing the end.

The chosen material is no coincidence either. Isn’t the use of kitchen paper a clear sign of our mass consumption and its consequence? We create waste in order to clean up waste. We waste time in order to have enough money to hopefully one day catch up with it, forgetting to live in the here and the now. This unintentional artwork doesn’t limit its scope. It poses us a direct and crucial question: Will we take a new kitchen roll and continue towards the dead end or will we choose another option? Will we head in the right (and presumably better) direction?

 

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Earth’s Mouth

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Nature features heavily in the works of the Unintentional Art Movement. Earth’s Mouth is another example. It immediately reminds us of the intentional artworks of Dali or Magritte, where nature also becomes anthropomorphic . Whether it’s a rock formation in the shape of a woman or a woman clad in a slightly cloudy blue sky, the paintings of these two giants of surrealism are iconic. Magritte also branched out, adding birds to the sky, moons inside trees or a giant eagle that becomes a rock formation.

Earth’s Mouth seems to be in the same vein, with the very important difference that it’s an unintentional artwork, with different layers adding to the uniqueness of this surreal yet very real work. First of all there’s the seemingly literal link between the roots of the tree, used to feed the tree and necessary to make it grow, and the mouth depicted here. The roots have the same function as the mouth.

But just like with landing bird this can be seen as another work criticizing the way we interact with our environment. The roots are pulled out of the ground and the mouth can only appear because the direct link between the two is cut. Will the tree survive? It leaves the audience wonder about the fate and the future.

The mouth is a very fitting  symbol. Nature is losing ground because we selfishly claim its natural resources, not in the least to feed ourselves. The mouth, wide open, can also be seen as a way of critiquing our general greed, our need for materialism that is oppressing nature and perhaps even altering human nature itself.

The work can be found Beddgelert in North-Wales. Due to the nature of this work it’s possible that at some point it will be gone.

Intentional dialogue on unintentional art #1

Dialogue #1

Person X: It’s called modern art, but I like to call it modern waste. I understand the concept but it’s not art at all. However if you do it right, it can evolve into something of actual use, feng shui. Which is art, in style of building and decorating a home to look and feel as cozy as possible. Being in china right now, the way they build & decorate houses here is so many levels of thinking above how we do it in the west that I can see it as works of art (both inside and outside). But modern art? Who do you guys think you’re kidding?

UAM: Architecture is intentional. Feng Shui is very intentional, a very active, rational way of intervening with the environment. So I guess you do not understand the concept. In a way it is modern waste though. But perhaps we should conclude that intentional conceptual art is modern waste as well. Perhaps.

Person X: No I do understand. You’re talking about the doodle version of modern art. It can accidentally look good or not. Intentional conceptual art is not waste, it’s art.

UAM:
A) Waste can be art
B) If it looks good or not is not the point of unintentional art. So you are missing   A if not THE point.
C) The unintentional part of unintentional art is not about doing something unintentional, it’s about something being art or artful without the intent of being made as an object of art. You seem to focus on unintential as just coming up with something, for instance, throwing six spoons together and calling it art.

Green Car

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This wonderful example of unintentional art was on temporary display at the “Rue de l’église” (Church Street) parking lot in the French village Choilley-Dardeney.

It shows a green, mundane family car in complete motionlessness. This immobility is no coincidence, but is a dual statement. On the one hand it shows the inertia defining the little French village, and perhaps even the economic and societal situation of France as a nation. On the other hand there’s also a more positive connotation, an easefulness demonstrated by the lack of dynamism or movement. The car is standing still. It does not participate in the hectic frenzy of modern day traffic.

What’s special about this work of art is that it also leaves the spectator with feelings of unease. As a viewer we know that the quietness is merely temporary and can end at any given time. The owner of the car might show up, driving off and leaving the parking space empty. This strengthens the transient, almost incidental, character of the artwork and serves as a reflection upon our own limits, our own mortality.

That message comes to full fruition when one realizes that the particular parking space in the artwork borders the village’s cemetery, a subtle yet unmistakably important layer, that one can only find if one gets behind the steering wheel, takes action and ends the slumber of inactivity. It takes effort to discover the context and deeper meaning of the artwork. And yet, it also gives a shimmer of hope. Stagnation is also temporary.

On a meta-level this work of art challenges us to redefine motionlessness. It does not imply a stagnation of the mind. As such it refers to the Unintentional Art Movement itself. The objects are often immobile and sterile, and become valuable or art after being put in motion by the artist. Physical immobility is often followed by mental activity.

The materials used in this work of art are mostly thermosetting plastics and aluminum, with the circles in the lower part of the artwork consisting of rubber.