on marjetica potrc

so today, i knew i'd have a long wait in the hospital waiting room so i brought along some reading. i partially read the latest art papers and was intrigued by the article "Shanties to Go: Can a shack in a museum teach us something about life in the west bank?" which is about the work of marjetica potrc and her 1st  presence in a U.S. show "Urgent Architecture", written by sabir khan.  she is a slovenian artist and architect who in her words "translates things she finds fascinating and typical for today's society into the gallery, so that it becomes a three dimensional object that speaks about the conditions of contemporary development world wide".  she works in many mediums to address her interests..for instance she photographs wild animals who's terrain has been overcome by urban sprawl in her series 'animal sightings' and in her 'powertool' series she designs and photographs the use of experimental prototypes of utiliarian objects. however the thrust of the article is a critique of the reproductions of shacks, and other humble, perhaps spontaneous abodes made by the people who inhabit them that she exhibits in musuems and galleries world-wide.  there was only one quote from her in the article but i gathered that she is both commenting on the beauty of these structures as well as the compelling contrast of the striking class differences of viewing 'art" in a gallery as opposed to living 'art' in the process and struggle of surviving.

with this in mind, first i found it odd that she doesn't install them herself, but rather she faxes directions to the gallery installers to follow. secondly she specifies parts not from junk/salvage yards but from home depot (if she is so interested in locality and vernacular structures...why use such a generic resource which has dominated over and eliminated local neighborhood hardware stores everywhere). also interesting is that, according to Khan, she for the most part researches the structures almost exclusively via internet as opposed in person and in the field. i think some of these revelations seemed to warrant Khan's critique of her work as 'curiously passive'...and further commentary that the shanties are too clean and have a "dollhouse lightness", lacking the "funk, patina, or residents' point of view".  this really made me think about my little notions about participatory design.  i think the thing that is so, fascinating about these kind of structures is indeed the story of who made them, how and why.  it doesn't really matter what they look like. so when presented in a gallery they lose that significance.   somehow, the work of beverly buchanan, does seem to acheive it (that funk, that deeper story) a little better..maybe b/c she is from the area and she is documenting/recreating these structures that she's around everyday but i dunno. in potrc's other 'utlilitarian industrial design' work she certainly seems committed to the significance, assets and needs of a particular place.

i appreciated the interesting questions Khan raised about the ethics of her work, however ultimately i found it hard to form a completely informed opinion without hearing her voice at any point in the article to understand her intent. i find myself wondering if it should be neccessary to hear the artists intent in order to understand or form opinions on the work.  i guess it shouldn't...i guess that's the point. everyone forms their own opinions. however with art which seemingly attempts to overtly address and comment on social conditions...i wanted to hear her stance. if it is not apparent in the work, is it indeed "weak activism" as Khan suggests? or is her point to be vague and therein situate the complexity of her arguement? antyways...

next up i need to getting around to reading article that immediately follows this one,  "why architecture hates art". more on that later i imagine...


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