Monday, November 02, 2009

Exploded View | Matt Olson: "Momentary Performances and Things That Last Longer"

Lee Walton's Momentary Performances will take place around the Twin Cities from Sept-Nov. Each performance is a simple action that in everyday life would normally be overlooked. By giving this action or performance a time, date and location, Walton's intention is to highlight the subtleties and beauties of everyday people and actions. - from the show's program

A couple months back after spending the afternoon at the Walker Art Center in "The Quick and the Dead" exhibit, my friend David Hamlow and I stood stunned in the underground parking garage talking about how overwhelming the show was. One of the museum guards told us about an unlisted work in the show by the artist Trisha Donnelly, a car parked in the garage with California plates that read 666. We found it and we loved it. Just as we were about to leave we noticed a series of large pipes running along the wall that reached a point where they were all disconnected, so that any fluid running through them would've just spilled out on the ground. It almost looked like art; needing only a conceptual context to frame it with. We talked about how, with the right mindset, anything can be art, an idea that is always exciting to think about.

Lee Walton's work often explores this concept. He's currently got a solo show up here in Minneapolis at the Olson Gallery called "Momentary Performances and Things That Last Longer". If you are able to attend, it is a highly recommended show.

Walton's work playfully explores how relatively minor changes to things, like relocating things, slightly altering spaces, reenacting mundane things can become thought provoking and occasionally profoundly beautiful.

Having read about Walton's work a lot in the last few years, I've been interested in the word "experientialism" which is almost always used to describe it. Lately I've seen it used to describe other artists work as well. So I asked Lee about it and he was nice enough to answer...

Me: Could you talk a bit about what "experientialism" is and what it means to you? Is it actually a movement? Did you coin this term?

Lee Walton: This is a tough question really. I did coin the term back in 2001. It was more a negation of other terms, rather, than anything else. I've been labeled a performance artist, a conceptual artist, or (the newest one) social practice artist. All are good and it's all connected. But I felt if I latched on to one of these and accepted it fully, I'd be filling a role of some kind. I am more interested in an open-ended situation - such as being an Eperientialist - whatever that is. Also, as a young artist, trying to coin a movement was the LAST thing you were supposed to do. So it seemed appropriate to do it right away.

There is a thrill when I see the word used to describe my work or others. Especially whe its an art paper or public press. It's like "sneaking" something into the vernacular and just seeing if it floats.

Experentialism... hmmm... Experiential Practice? I still like it!

As a creative professional, I'm always trying to broaden my view of where life, art and work intersect. It always makes all three things better. Walton's work is a great place to start thinking about these things and I can't recommend looking into his work enough. And if you live in the Twin Cities, don't miss this show.

Lee Walton "Momentary Performances and Things that Last Longer"
Bethel University - Olson Gallery
Sept 18 - Dec 13, 2009

The last opportunity to experience a "Momentary Performance" is coming up on Nov 5th. Details here.

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