Bucky Balls (2006-present)

Bucky balls made from art packing tape

The production of Bucky Balls started as an spontaneous event during the demount of the Superstars exhibition (Kunsthalle Wien, 2005/6.) Besides the immediacy of detecting a certain formal beauty, the work responded to my situation : an artist working in the global art industry in a lateral and quasi creative way, that is, working as an art handler (preparator/technician), rather than as an artist per se.  Particularly, the work relates to a certain self re-institutionalisation, in that since arriving in Europe (1997) I found myself in a recalibration of practice : having been very concentrated on exhibition/context practice in Sydney, I found myself isolated on multiple levels and this made me focus more on the production of an often very personal creative process, rather than concentrating on making content for the next gig, or even concentrating on the anxiety of getting the next gig. The energy and impetus and dare I say joy that I gained from this made these anxieties fade into irrelevance. But as part of this process I became very critical about the roles of institutions and the wider social field of art. This culminated in the creation of the performance persona, Cindy Lutèce (see below), a process that sought to create a perpetual motion machine and that motion was away (from itself, from its artfulness, from myself, from the need for art institutions per se), in other words a destratafication and ultimately the creation of a (performative) field of immanance. However, when I came to Austria (2004) I found myself once again in a marginal and isolated space and so eventually took a part time job as an arthandler and was surprised that this provided a somewhat enjoyable exposure to the artworld, this time producing a movement away from my increasingly solipsistic art practice. My previous engagements at the industry level (besides as an artist) had been as a gallery administrator, a studio assistant, a curator and a preparator, so this wasn’t the first time that I had supported myself in this way. I embraced the opportunity to incorporate this labour into my practice and to access raw materials and space and time for art production. The moulding of Bucky Balls provided a sensual and material multitasking, a counterpoint to an often otherwise mundane routine of lifting, screwing and mathematics.

During this time I was also thinking a lot about art production in a humorous way and specifically at institutional and industry conundrums on a global level, see The (Conspiracy) Theory of Art, 2007. Bucky Balls were an aesthetic reaction to perceived inequities within the institution’s structure specifically, but extending to a wider critique of the exchange values within the art economy itself. What is the position of the art industry within the paradigm of financial capitalism and how are its value metrics generated? To a certain extent Bucky Balls are a confrontation between labour and capital. The worker/artist relationship has turned work itself into art. Modes and spaces of work have become confused as the production flows between that of art and money, it takes advantage of paid but institutionally “dead” time to create a concept and a material of art. Is this institutional critique, or institution as muse?

In my exhibition practice, I have consistently made contextual engagements, so aspects of the context are reflected back on itself. This is not simply a research project, but the making of a sensation engine : the gap between conceptual discovery, the creative impulse, (the spark, if you will) and its productive mediative processes is narrowed, enabling a vital rather than didactic relationship to the space and the audience.

bucky balls from punk exhibition

The work also functions as a documented archive, they are from exhibitions and art movements at the Kunsthalle Wien, MuMoK, Kunsthistorische, MuSA, TBA 21 and other spaces, public and private. Through their archival function, Bucky Balls are fetish objects, each one a mnemonic for the “famous” work(s) that it came with. They are the documentary remains that gather in clusters of exhibitions, mapping out global movements. Within their conceptual schema is a determination that new balls should be created from the packaging of their own exhibition movements, thus the work grows as it consumes itself.

The title Bucky Balls is the common name for Buckminsterfullerene, or Carbon 60 (C60), which is in itself named after Buckminster Fuller as the molecular structure resembles his Geodesic Domes, his structural utopias. The naming was immediate and perhaps somewhat frivilous, although I was pleased to read later that C60 is detectable after lightning strikes and is thus a neat analogy for the vital urgency of conceptual transmission.

 

Bucky Balls made of art packing tape

photo 1 Paul Green, photos 2 & 3 Scott Hayes