Define and discuss the word transcendence. What kinds of experiences are transcendent? Can art be transcendent? How? Why?
Consider the terms traditional sculpture and social sculpture. What forms might these types of sculpture take? Look at examples of contemporary and historic sculpture. How do they relate to or challenge the categories of traditional and social sculpture?
Kimsooja is physically present in many of her projects and speaks specifically about using her body to become Needle Woman. How does she do this? Why do you think she chose the metaphor of a needle?
What associations do you make with Kimsooja’s work? Consider specific artworks featured in this segment in relation to your own ideas, experiences, and memories.
Kimsooja talks about the importance of the bottari (the Korean word for a bundle used to transport belongings or goods) in her work. She also describes her installation at the Crystal Palace as “a bottari of light and sound and reflection.” Discuss this metaphor.
In what ways is Kimsooja’s work transcendent? Kimsooja says that she always tries to find the transcendent moment and space within her work. Does she achieve her goal? How?
Describe the materials and tools used by Hirschhorn and the Forest Houses residents to create Gramsci Monument. Why did Hirschhorn use those materials? What are their benefits and challenges?
How do the residents of Forest Houses respond to Hirschhorn’s project? What do their statements about the project say about coexisting with the work, as well as the effects of making and sharing in this work?
Why is Antonio Gramsci important to Thomas Hirschhorn?
Compare or relate Gramsci Monument to other more traditional monuments. Describe the similarities and/or differences between them.
What did Hirschhorn and the Forest Houses residents gain from the project? Why create an impermanent monument like this one? How does it relate to Hirschhorn’s goal of creating memory?
List the kinds of places and objects that attract Paglen. Why is he interested in them?
How have his experiences growing up contributed to his interests?
How is the element of space pictured in this segment? What kinds of spaces does Paglen engage with? How does Paglen’s interest in geography inform his work?
How does Paglen use diverse approaches to art-making to make the invisible visible?
Analyze the ways aesthetics, power, and technology come together in Paglen’s work. What does Paglen say about each?
What do you think Paglen means when he says his work is about the production of space? How does this idea compare with those of other artists who work with the element of space?
What is Paglen’s view of his role as an artist? What do we learn by looking into his works?
Describe Altmejd’s working process. How does it compare to your own working process or that of other visual artists?
Altmejd states, “I realized very early in my studies in science that I wasn’t interested in learning a language. I was really interested in inventing languages.” How does Altmejd’s work reflect this idea? In addition to visual language, what else is Altmejd inventing through his work?
How does Altmejd’s visual imagery—body parts and insects, for instance—influence how his sculpture is experienced and interpreted? In what ways are these images symbolic? After Viewing
Discuss Altmejd’s statement, “I don’t want the sculpture to be a mere illustration. I try to build an object that’s going have enough layers—references and energy—to start feeling like it’s alive.” What distinctions is Altmejd making between illustration and his art?
How does Altmejd inject energy into his sculptures? How do other artists and writers do this? Share examples of visual art or literature that, in your opinion, convey a sense of energy.
List all the references to popular culture that you recognize in Koons’s work. Recount the steps in the process of making one of Koons’s paintings. What technologies and innovations are utilized to create a finished work? Koons speaks about his desire for communication and interaction. How does his choice of media, materials, and subjects relate to his desire to communicate through his work? How does Koons’s painting process differ from the process of painting ten years ago, 100 years ago, 1,000 years ago?
Salcedo describes her process and art as a collective effort. Describe the specialists and the skills that are needed to complete one of her works.
Discuss Salcedo’s explanation of the word experience, including the Latin root that signifies ‘going across danger’. How does Salcedo’s definition relate to specific works of art and her working process?
Salcedo says that the word that defines her work is impotence. Why do you think Salcedo chose that word, and how does it relate to her work? What word or words would you use to describe Salcedo’s work?
Salcedo describes her work as an attempt to rescue a memory. What do you think she means by this? What kinds of memories is Salcedo trying to rescue? How does she do this?
How does Salcedo’s description of herself as a Third World artist define her work? What does it mean for her to be a Third World artist?
In what ways do the events on September 11th, 2001 continue to affect American society today? How did this event change the way society considers the themes of violence, power, fear, and control?
From early on, very early on, I understood that art is not about what you say. It’s about these other things that you don’t say.” Use Cai’s statement to discuss his work and working process.
How is Cai’s work related to his father’s work? In what ways has he diverged from traditional artistic practice and in what ways has he maintained connections to age-old practices and philosophies?
Cai says, “Maybe my work sometimes is like the poppy flower. It’s very beautiful, but yet because of circumstances it also represents a poison to society as well.” Discuss Cai’s metaphor and describe the connections between violence and beauty in his work.