[STUDIO]

Writings & works on the PSU MFA Studio Lecture Series by the students of the MFA in Contemporary Art Practice: Studio program.

Posts tagged euan macgregordonald

Mar 7


Jan 18

A Littler Ramble (2012), brings a probably not quite full scale replica of Euan Macdonald’s replica of a mountaintop onto the vacant lot at Southwest Fourth Avenue and Lincoln Street. Realistically rendered by a general contractor with a dumptruck full of asphalt the day before, the mountain’s summit is surmounted by actual snow from a local cloudburst. The work takes its title from a short prose piece by Robert Walser (1878-1956) recounting a trek in the mountains easily projected onto the landscape around Portland. “I walked through the park blocks today,” the account begins. “The weather was damp, and the entire region was gray. Woe, woe is me.” The ending asserts the power of the mundane: “We don’t need to see anything out of the ordinary. We already see so much.” The artist has added the suffix “-r” to the end so we know that it is in fact littler than probably a real mountaintop, and probably even Euan’s real one—which he has never seen in person and just kind of guessed about the dimensions, scale, and appearance of (after Euan’s original non-attempt to recreate Mt. Rainer).

A mountain encountered inside a parking lot used to store construction equipment temporarily is clearly out of the ordinary, but the piece asserts itself as a commonplace despite its uncanniness. The ordinary is expressed as if extraordinary.


Jan 17

Here is a rough version of Euan MacDonald’s lecture


I was unfortunately unable to attend any of the events focused around Euan MacDonald’s visit to PSU. While listening to the recorded interview between Mr. MacDonald and classmates the conversation around the comment “Conceptual Art is pointing at things” interested me. MacDonald did not wish to frame his work as pointing but rather isolating content. This lead to a discussion of his piece SCLPTR that is a shot of a truck, with the plates reading SCLPTR, hauling a large statue of Buddha. He took the video while riding in another car and by the manner in which its shot seems as if he came upon it by accident. By editing and slowing down the video he claims he isolates that content that is being shot. You are given the chance to understand what it is you are looking at beyond the initial humor you instantly identify. He talked at length about the commercial qualities of religion playing out in the video.

When I saw the clip online it brought to mind something I had seen on YouTube not too long ago. In the video an elderly man sits in a lazy boy on the back of a moving truck dozing off as he speeds down a highway. Looking not much different then the Buddha statue, the videos both invoke a humorous response. What I thought about is if I slow down the video as MacDonald did with his and placed it side by side does it isolate content that then can be ingested the same as his video. I leave that deconstruction to you. 


Jan 11
Spoiler Alert. 
Past, present, and future Euan portraits. 

Spoiler Alert. 

Past, present, and future Euan portraits. 


To paraphrase Euan Macdonald during his lecture, The Tower is “the ugliest piece of public art ever created.”  Utilizing the plans of the CN Tower, Euan created for the Toronto Sculpture Garden an exact replica of the top 20 feet of the building, a section that (perhaps reasonably) blends in to become a nearly detail-free portion of the building.

To paraphrase Euan Macdonald during his lecture, The Tower is “the ugliest piece of public art ever created.”  Utilizing the plans of the CN Tower, Euan created for the Toronto Sculpture Garden an exact replica of the top 20 feet of the building, a section that (perhaps reasonably) blends in to become a nearly detail-free portion of the building.


Euan’s A Little Ramble was, as he mentioned in the lecture, originally intended to be a recreation of the top of Mt. Rainer, much the same way he had with Toronto’s CN Tower for The Tower. He balked, however, deciding that no one knew or cared what the top of the mountain looked like, choosing instead to have the set designers create an entirely fictional mountain to fit inside Western Bridge.

Xu Zhen in 2005 set out to do the same thing as Euan had initially, but with a rather more lofty goal than mere recreation and a higher target in mind.  As part of an installation that includes a chunk of rock that looks every bit the part of what one imagines the top of Mt. Everest to look like, Xu posted a video purporting to be him sawing off his height from the top of the mountain and carrying it back down with a team.

From the Tate:

8848 Minus 1.86 combines these elements in an ambitious work focusing on Mount Everest. The British claimed in 1856 that the summit was 8,848 metres in height, a measurement that despite new and conflicting data still officially stands. In May 2005, Xu Zhen led an ascent on Everest, and to test the veracity of the measurements, succeeded in removing the summit of the mountain, reducing its height by 186cm, Xu Zhen’s own height. Various official and independent surveys since have consistently shown that Everest is not as high as had been thought, pointing, perhaps, to evidence of global warming, or a shift in the tectonic plates, though its cause still remains unproven.

What would have happened if Euan had actually scaled Mt. Rainer?  Or is the blatant falseness of his gesture somehow more real than the questionable reality of Xu Zhen’s?


Euan Macdonald. Natura, 2002. video 3 1/2 mins.

Euan Macdonald. Natura, 2002. video 3 1/2 mins.


Thoughts on Euan MacDonald’s Lecture

  1. He spoke about moving from painting to video. Sarah and Euan both seemed to sort of want to avoid the can of worms that is painting.
  2. Euan spoke about shooting stuff and holding on to for a long time, using it later. I like to do that.

A Little Ramble

Robert Walser (1878-1956) recounting a trek in the mountains.
“I walked through the mountains today,” the account begins. “The weather was damp, and the entire region was gray.” The narrator limits himself to the observable, giving little indication of his interior state. The ending asserts the power of the mundane: “We don’t need to see anything out of the ordinary. We already see so much.”


“Macdonald quietly unsettles the viewers faith about what exactly is - or is not - happening in the picture he or she is looking at. … These pockets of uncertainty are enhanced by Macdonald’s deliberately style-less or impersonal approach to making images.” Ralph Rugoff, “Responsiveness Testing,” 9,000 Pieces, published by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 2010

A Little Ramble, the work takes its title from a short prose piece by Robert Walser (1878-1956).

A Little Ramble, the work takes its title from a short prose piece by Robert Walser (1878-1956).


Euan Macdonald Interviewed live at PSU on Broadway (or technically east of Broadway on 5th, but still)!


Euan Macdonald98134,200916 x 74 x 37 inches
From A Little Ramble at Western Bridge, 2010.

Euan Macdonald
98134,
2009
16 x 74 x 37 inches

From A Little Ramble at Western Bridge, 2010.


Page 1 of 2