Meg Webster (US, 1944) works in post-minimal, land and conceptual art forms. Coinciding with her very successful reinstallation of the historic work “Pool” for EXPO1 at MoMA PS1, New York, she has created new works for her first show in Switzerland: “Model for Polished Tetrahedron for Sometimes Containing Water, Sometimes Containing Rain” and “Contained Water Pair (Filled with Water from Nearest Glacier and from Nearest River)”. Additionally, she will present objects in large and small scale as well as works on paper. The polished steel and copper pieces are tactile and shiny whereas the works on paper are matte and entice reactions. Provocation in the form of thought, discourse or substance is an integral part of her oeuvre whose origins are rooted in politics, our environment and choices. While materiality is a main focus of her work, origin is of equal importance.
The installations and model appropriately reflect on a natural resource – water. Water gathered from the Rhone Glacier and the Rhine River are exhibited side by side. This allows us to contemplate their different colors and properties within Optiwhite triangular glass containers. In the 2013 work “Contained Water Pair (Filled with Water from Nearest Glacier and from Nearest River)” the composition and energy are different. We might reflect on natural and man-made disasters, vacations on turquoise Caribbean waters, jumping in mountain lakes or our direct and indirect usage of water and retracting glaciers due to global warming. The later are preoccupations of the artist who requested that the gallery document of the collection of the glacier’s water.
Another triangular object is the newly created “Model for Polished Tetrahedron for Sometimes Containing Water, Sometimes Containing Rain”, 2013, whose easily manageable size allows it to be placed on its side as well as on its pierced base. This perfect shape executed in polished stainless steel allows light reflections and confirms Webster as a post-minimalist interested in the quality of our environment and wellbeing. It is a piece which the artist intends as a work in itself, but also as a model for a larger, site-specific sculpture, to be installed outdoors.
Origins matter – process as well. The polished “Copper Disk for Facing Hands”, 2012, is reminiscent of an ancient object seen in a museum and the desire to touch it. In creating a new disk and allowing it to be handled, one feels the energy flow in a concentrated manner. The inviting shape, warm metal and reflection react in unison to activate and channel energy. The finely pointed polished stainless steel “Wand”, 2012, invites the viewer to look towards infinity due to the fine gradation to nothingness. Minimal shapes, precise workmanship and wholesome feelings empower us to want to improve ourselves, our surroundings, our politics. Wishing, praying, making resolutions for future action and serenity fill us.
An abrupt change of focus occurs with “Melted Weapon Box”, 2008, a work that consist of a photograph of an M4 military assault rifle and two inlaid open cubes. The weapon was purchased and sent to be melted down into its respective metals, aluminum and steel, and recast into separate boxes. This conceptual piece reminds us of the world’s conflicts and local tragedies. Transforming the firearm to aluminum and steel boxes shaped to fit inside one another removes the danger that lurks around us yet the weight and squared shape recall the seriousness of the original object, subject and lasting effects of pulling the trigger.
Using organic and natural material as paint awakens the olfactory and imaginary senses when the works on paper are made of coffee, mustard, fenugreek, cardamom or neutralizes them when it’s cornstarch or cement – in itself binding substances. What are the different thoughts that cross our minds as we look at the textured monochrome paintings and are enthralled by their smell? Would the color and intensity be different if it were not organically grown? How is longevity affected (ours and the works)? Do all minds start to reminisce back to scents, meals, beautiful architecture, landscapes and reflect on the work and substance?
Meg Webster has recently exhibited her work “Pool” for the second time at MoMA PS1 and participated in the Dojima River Biennale 2013, Osaka, JP. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis and the Panza Collection, Switzerland. The artist is represented by Paula Cooper Gallery, New York.