On Sight Salon – National Park
Artist-in-Residence Fawn Krieger and Visual Art Program Director Kristan Kennedy
I just want you to cleanup after yourself
a Parent teaches a child
a Park Ranger reprimands a visitor
Americans ask it of our nation
The American sculptor Fawn Krieger huddles in a ball mimicking the shape of her own cave she sits next to, constantly switching her weight on one knee and the other. Kristan Kennedy asks how her sculpture installation at the Works, National Park, came together, what inspired it, what it means, and what’s next. Fawn’s elegant vocabulary choices and psychological insights betray her physical fidgety introvert. This artist is trained, scholarly, confident, and a well-deserved success. I think its safe to say that National Park might just be my favorite piece Kristan has brought here since On Sight began.
Fawn’s answers during the salon flooded me with way more insight and understanding than I was prepared to give the piece. Beforehand, I thought it was just cool because it was cool, simple as that, but now I’m trying to wrap my head around all of its complex aesthetic, anti-aesthetic, and emotional nooks and crannies and hiding spots.
Fawn explained that the conception of inspiration for the piece was in 2004, when she came across a set of photos of her family on a road trip across the states in 1984, when she was 9. The photos show her, her older brother and her parents, at the Grand Canyon, at Mt. St. Helens, at Yosemite. After some percolating of ideas and possibilities that included bringing people to National Parks for some kind of art event, Fawn ultimately reversed her thinking and decided to bring the National Park to TBA.
Before National Park, Fawn had an installation in New York called COMPANY. The piece existed as a simulacrum of a store inside a real store front. Ideas of American consumerism and consumer space, cultural tourism, etc. were influencing her when she was in the early stages of thinking about National Park, and a lot of that comes out in the original descriptions and explanations she wrote about the piece to be included in TBA collateral. But, then a funny thing happened. The more time she spent with her ideas, and as she began building and dealing with the actual site for the piece – a hollowed library in a high school in Portland – her focus moved away from some of those heady social-lefty anti-consumer facets, and more to the time of ones life when they are in high school, as they discover and must take responsibility for the maturing public citizen inside their adolescent self-centered selves.
Consumer exchanges were replaced by cultural and social exchanges we have with each other, and with ourselves, at a place like a National Park. Or more specifically, at a foam, felt and 2×4 recreation of a National Park in an art space, and all those reverent expectations that come with the loaded term “art space”. That last sentence evokes Baudrillard’s “hyper reality” which I vaguely remember from a Philosphy/Aesthetics class. The hyper reality is more real than the reality because it knows it’s fake….or something like that.