Art after Art after Art

Ray_1v8-600x474Nicholas Brown at nonsite:

Charles Ray’s Unpainted Sculpture is a full-scale, monochrome rendering in fiberglass, duplicated piece by piece through a mechanical process, of a totaled Pontiac Grand Am. The accident that wrecked the original car was a fatal one:

If ghosts existed, would they haunt the actual substance of a place or object? Or would the object’s topology, geometry, or shape be enough to hold the ghost? Unpainted Sculpture began as an investigation into the nature of a haunting. I studied many automobiles that were involved in fatal collisions. Eventually I chose a car that I felt held the presence of its dead driver. (Charles Ray 106).

It is initially difficult to imagine a non-bullshit meaning for this paragraph, whose form acknowledges its own nonsensicality. One cannot run an experiment on initial conditions that are themselves counterfactual: since ghosts are acknowledged not to exist, the success or failure of the sculpture can’t establish how they would act if they did. When one begins to examine the sculpture, however, it is hard not to be struck by a certain presence, physical (or better, indexical) rather than ghostly, in the force with which the steering wheel has been smashed in by the body of the driver, and in the tremendous crumpling of the front of the car on the driver’s side. It is hard not to narrativize this observation as a kind of shock: “Something has happened here, someone has died.”

more here.