Finished reading: Dancing with the Gods by Kent Nerburn 📚
This book is advice on the artistic life from an experienced sculptor and writer. I found one section particularly striking. It contrasted two approaches to making art: that of the architect and that of the gardener.
“The architect designs and builds; he [sic] knows the desired outcome before he begins. The gardener plants and cultivates, trusting the sun and weather and the vagaries of change to bring forth a bloom. As artists we must learn to be gardeners, not architects. We must seek to cultivate our art, not construct it, giving up our preconceptions and presuppositions to embrace accident and mystery. Let moments of darkness become the seedbed of growth, not occasions of fear.”
I remembered these words while visiting the new exhibition spaces at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney. It’s hard to imagine an artwork that could have more clearly illustrated the cultivation approach to art that Nerburn wrote of.
In a huge, mysterious, and very dark underground space called The Tank, Argentinian sculptor Adrián Villar Rojas was exhibiting a series of extraordinary sculptures entitled The End of Imagination. These pieces, apparently four years in the making, seemed really ancient, but of the deep future, organic, not constructed, more biological than artificial, and they appeared to be growing there in the darkness.
Rojas undertook an exhaustive computer simulation of deep-time environmental processes in imagined extraterrestrial contexts, to shape and weather each piece, prior to creating their physical representation. So the outcome was not so much sculpted as weathered and sedimented into existence - yet not by any kind of earthly processes.
Earlier thoughts on Dancing with the Gods.