Monday, April 9, 2012
Charles Simonds' Bodies and Bricks
Working then on the lower east side of NYC in very run down neighborhoods close to where he lived, he constructed tiny clay brick worlds in little niches of crumbling hollowed out building corners, etc. Short videos he made were great to watch combining the work with the times.
A good video doc. of his work although in spanish is here:
To get an idea of the times this movie of him is great as well though nothing to do with the art per se:
The landscape portion evolved to become surrealist sculptures with mouths or other dreamlike evocations emerging. Noguchi, Giacometti, etc. come to mind.
Eventually the work moved into galleries such as the Whitney where Mr. Simonds found a way to connect back to the street art by placing two complimentary creations in buildings across the street from the window in the Whitney room.
Mr. Simons explained he works with internal dialogues for the "little people" at times but also with meta narratives of a more primal nature as in Jungian archetypes though he did not specifically mention Jung necessarily. He did mention his parents were both psychologists and implied this subject was part of his work.
Outdoor work continued in art parks.
As the work became more refined and customer's requested pieces constructed inside their homes,
Or completely heroic.
In this work the narrative is people building the present by excavating the past in a continuous cycle.
Simplistically, the mud brick locally made is very natural and local, etc. And Mr. Simonds points out how building with earth bricks is a universal method globally back thousands of years such that he will hear people tell him his work reminds them of Pueblo cliff dwellings if they are from North America, or North African early history dwellings if they are from Europe, or Chinese early history if from Asia, etc. Primal qualities of material and construction of course are evocative of sustainable living and architects have used rammed earth construction and straw bale construction since the 70's for this reason.
However, if we look closer at the places created by Mr. Simonds we find the integration of building with landscape; the ritual narratives relating to the buildings (as in his court piece where the defendant is either pushed into the pit or walks around to meet the judge and leave free); the psychological stimulations rather than the technological. All this can be incorporated into our Maine way of living as it can be experienced in our towns when we tune into the emotions.
And drop out of the rat race.