Gandhi with visitors to the opening of the Third Guangzhou Triennial.
Just recently I returned from a rather extraordinary experience building the second 17′ cardboard Gandhi for the Third Guangzhou Triennial at the Guangdong Museum of Art which runs from September 6th through November 16th, 2008. The theme for the Triennial is Farewell to Post-Colonialism, which is reflected in the strong conceptual and theoretical basis of much of the work in the show. Here is a link to a good overview of the exhibition recently posted on Rhizome.org by Claire Louise Staunton. I had been invited to be in this international exhibition towards the end of my residency period at Eyebeam in NYC this past Spring. The curators preferred to build a new cardboard Gandhi rather than ship the one I built in NYC – in part due to the expense but more so that much of the work in the exhibition was to be manufactured in total or in part on site.
I traveled to China for the first time three weeks prior to the opening of the exhibition September 6th. I stayed for one week to get the figure started and to train the workers on how to proceed with the build. The original build of the first Gandhi sculpture took just about 6 weeks of 6 days-a-week, 8-10 hour days during my residency at Eyebeam, I had the able assistance of two part time interns, essentially a few days of help a week. For this build, all was to be completed in under 3 weeks time with my time limitted as I was able to be in China for just under 2 weeks total. After the first week of construction I returned home to Reno for the first week of my semester teaching duties at the University of Nevada, Reno, and to take one of my twin daughters off to her first year of college (Yale no less, her sister is at Harvard – proud papa indeed!).
I flew straight from Hartford, Conneticut all the way back to Guangzhou for the final week of construction and installation of the remaining work. During my absence, the workers basically completed the interior structure for the figure which required a bit of tweaking to get everything to fit together properly. It was amazing to work with a crew that ranged between three and seven helpers to complete the figure in this short period of time, non of whom spoke English save for one or two of the student volunteers. Fortunately each artist was assigned an assistant/translator who was with me throughout the construction phase of the project. We worked like crazy the last week of the installation and all came together very well – this in spite of the mandated work schedule of the museum staff – they come in at 9am, work until 11:30am, take a 2.5 hour lunch, come back and work until 5pm. Thus a 5.5 hour workday! Can’t beat that but it certainly made the build rather interesting considering my impulse is to work through lunch into the evenings, etc.. Thankfully, once the figure was in the actual space of the museum the artists were allowed to work into the evenings on their various projects.
The figure has a slightly different pose from the first Gandhi and somehow a more pronounced smile than the one first show at Eyebeam.
Here I am with the 17' Gandhi along with the other works from my contribution to the show.
The museum printed up 8 very large format prints of screenshots from the Salt March reenactment in Second Life, these looked great as you can see above, truly complimenting the scale of the figure. I also showed the small, 8″ white Gandhi figure and a new, 15″ Gandhi figure that I treated with genuine gold leaf – both of these sculptures were created using the rapid prototyping, 3-D printer at Eyebeam. This is the first showing of the gold leaf figure which I completed after my return to Reno.
White Gandhi figure with the Gold Leaf Gandhi in the background.
Also being shown at the Triennial is a short video documentary of the Salt March reenactment, the projector is mounted inside the wood pedestal holding the Gold Leaf Gandhi and projected upon the wall.
Gold Leaf Gandhi with video projection.
The remainder of this post will be a number of pictures of the Gandhi work and the crowds that attended the opening of the Triennial. Sad to say I left China the next morning. I was very pleased with the exhibition – the Gandhi work was featured in what is arguably the best gallery in the entire museum, room #5, a massive space with high ceilings. I was showing with other large scale work done by some fantastic artists – will go more into detail on the other works in the show in my next posting.
Gandhi at the opening.
The Second Life screenshots with a visitor to the opening.
The three Gandhi figures.
Gandhi as viewed from across the gallery through the work of Chinese artist Shao Yinong