Saturday, March 10, 2012

Artist Talk: Martin Brief

Artforum Series, scale photo

What I liked so much about the lecture given by Martin Brief was that he was so honest and direct with the audience. Of course he began his talk by telling us a little about himself – born and raised in Chicago and got his Masters in photography – but he then began to relate to the audience by asking aloud, “What do these people want to know?” of course with that question he was referring to us and he answered that question be diving into and explaining the impetus and process behind several of his text-based works/projects. His honest explanations gave the audience a better understanding of his body of work and, honestly, made me feel even more interested in text-based work as a whole.
     One of the projects that Brief discussed that I found really interesting was his ongoing Newspaper Series. What really struck me about this project was hope relatively simple it was in theory – Brief would fill in all of the lower-case letter “o’s” on the front page of the New York Times. He established a limitation on this project by only using issues that were release on or after the date of his birth up until the present and he said that the project will end when he selects the issue that corresponds to his own birthday. What was so powerful to me about this work was that he was simplifying such a complex thing (the constantly changing front page and the language on the page) into these small, identical marks. I also thought that the process of the work was something I could relate to as the project, and all of his others, was very process based, as he was constantly working in the same manner and I have just been working on two sculptures that had very heavy process-based elements in them; in other words, I felt like I could relate to these Newspaper works.

August 6th, 1969

     The one main thing that I love about Brief’s work is how seemingly simple his ideas and processes are, but in a way his pieces are much more powerful and open to discussion because of it. I would never thought it possible to take Jenny Holzer’s Truisms and blow them up by writing out each definition of each word in the Truism. By doing so Brief doesn’t answer any questions or critique Holzer, but he presents the information in a different, more backwards way. The only thing that I think is somewhat weak (but I can’t help but like at the same time) is how each project/piece is fully explained in relation to its process. I feel like this almost does all the work for the viewer, however it does set the viewer up to more easily navigate the work, so I am not sure if this is a very large weakness. Its more just like another detail in the huge lists of words and names that Brief has organized for us to see.

Untitled No. 238, Truisms (After JH) Series

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