Work in Progress. Textile/performance, dimensions variable
(the number of layers is 39 in this photo because the artist was 39 years old
at the time of documentation, diameter = 129cm), 1980-(ongoing).
Work in Progress is, as the title alludes, an artwork that is ongoing and not finished.
The artist has cut circular shapes out of blankets, in various colours, and hand-sewn
them onto each other. Each new layer is attached to the bottom of the previous
layer, and is slightly bigger than the former, creating a pyramid-like structure.
Each layer represents a year of the artist’s life. In its current state, the piece has 39
layers because the artist is 39 years old. New layers will gradually be added each
time the artist has a birthday. It is, therefore, a life-long performative act, or ritual,
that is carried out annually, rather than being a static sculpture.
The circular shapes bring to mind the rings of trees, or the earth’s annual orbits
around the sun. It is a meditation on life and death—or to phrase it differently,
existence and non-existence. It is also about commitment; a dedication to a lifetime
of making art. Not just to art making in general, but a vow to a specific piece;
till death do us part.
The artwork can never be completed by adding a layer. It can only be finished by
subtracting something; in effect, the artist himself.
Polaroid snap shot documenting the adding of the 38th layer (2018):