On the cover:
Shinji Turner-Yamamoto, Global Tree Project: HANGING GARDEN, 2010. Dead and live white birches, soil, water, metal structure/support for broken trunk, and water irrigation system, view of installation at deconsecrated 19th-century Holy Cross Church (National Register of Historic Places), Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo: Courtesy the artist.
One of the more pervasive trends of the last few decades has been the preservation—if only for an instant—of inherently unstable materials, the artistic equivalent of capturing fireflies in a jar. This is a notable aesthetic shift because sculpture has historically been born from a desire to preserve, to memorialize in nearly everlasting materials like stone and bronze. Yet in this month’s issue, one can find artists as varied as Shinji Turner-Yamamoto and Cristina Piffer engaging in this turn to the evanescent: the former incorporates dust and uprooted trees in his work, the latter dust made from dehydrated cow’s blood, not to mention beef flesh in resin. Indeed, one could argue that by helping to create the first Happenings, Red Grooms, one of the two ISC Lifetime Achievement Award winners celebrated in these pages, became one of the inaugurators of this fascination with the ephemeral. Perhaps our era is conducive to the use of unstable materials because it, too, is so volatile.
It occurred to me, in putting this issue together, that a magazine is also an attempt to capture and fix—make something lasting out of—what is essentially ephemeral, be it an exhibition or a moment in an artist’s career. So, enjoy this issue while it’s still on the stands. And, speaking of things passing, don’t forget to sign up for the ISC’s annual conference, which will be held this year in Portland. —Daniel Kunitz