A sculpture to ponder on
Lawrence Weiner, a seminal figure in the conceptual art world, makes his mark in Singapore with an installation that takes you on a journey of self-actualisation. It is free to view at National Gallery Singapore and The Arts House until 14 Oct.
OUT OF SIGHT takes the form of an oversized hopscotch court populated with open-ended phrases such as ‘One Can Only Imagine The Powers That Be’ and ‘The Destination Is Straight On’. The artist sets the conceptual framework and invites you to explore and interpret in the context of your own life.
The first square – ‘Assuming A Position’ – is all about getting into the right frame of mind, as Weiner explains. “A person… will be able to stand in front of the marelle [French for hopscotch] and realise they first have to imagine themselves doing it. That’s assuming a position.”
The second square, ‘Presume a Destination’, invites you to consider the importance of visualisation and goal setting. What are your dreams? What are your goals? What is your vision of yourself in the future? The more mindful you are as you progress along the hopscotch court, the more rewarding it becomes.
In 1968, Weiner put out a succinct creative manifesto which has proven to be one of the most influential statements ever made about conceptual art. ‘The artist may construct the piece; the piece may be fabricated; the piece need not be built.’ In other words, a conceptual work is fully realised even if it only ever exists as a precise set of instructions written by the artist. If someone else follows the instruction to make an object or installation, the work is no more or less valid. If the instructions are never acted upon, it makes no difference. The concept is everything. This clarity of vision has been rewarded with major solo exhibitions all over the world, including the ICA and Tate Modern in London, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Deutsche Guggenheim.
The A List spoke to the New York-based artist about audience engagement and taking risks.
What was the impetus behind OUT OF SIGHT?
Lawrence Weiner: It is a public project trying to be as inclusive as possible for people in the city.
The installation invites the viewer to really engage: you have to think your way from one end to the other, not just look at it. What would you like someone to take away from doing this?
Weiner: I can’t tell people what to think. I make work that doesn’t have an academic answer. We don’t have a playbook and we are not supposed to.
Are the questions prompted by OUT OF SIGHT relevant to everyone, irrespective of language and culture?
Weiner: When you come off the highway and it says ‘Stop’, there are many translations but in fact it just says ‘Stop’. I don’t know what kind of existential arrangement you can derive from the meaning of ‘Stop’.
One of the hopscotch squares is ‘Spit in the Wind’. Is this about summoning up the courage to take risks and keep moving forward?
Weiner: Am I asking people to take an existential risk in order to participate? Yes. All art requires that in any language, from a Mondrian to a [Margaret] Keane painting.
Find out more about OUT OF SIGHT here.
(Photo: Paul Fisher)