On February 20 and February 21 The Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley is hosting the symposium “Living Time: Art and Life After ‘Art-Into-Life’. We’ve asked participants from three sessions to post some brief thoughts on the topic in advance of the event. This guest posting is by Karin Sanders (Professor, Department of Scandinavian, UC Berkeley), who is presenting in the session Regional Check-in: Nordic Time Zones: Time-based art in the High North.
At Living Time, I want to contemplate recent questions raised by museum theorists about permanency and the perils of musealization by considering the use of a particular and rather mundane substance: ice. How does this transient material function in the form of sculpture? Can institutional walls regulate the fickleness of Ice Art? Can Ice Art be placed somewhere between museumphobia and museumania? If sculptures made of ice are placed within museum walls do they inevitably challenge fixed institutional parameters and deep-rooted assumption about temporality? Said differently, how can Ice Art negotiate questions of disappearance and reproducibility, fluidity and solidity? And how does it relate to the human body? Can the evocative materiality of ice allow the viewers a possibility of contemplating the fall of museum walls or their reinforcement? To answer these questions I have selected several Ice Art pieces from three Danish artists, sculptor Kirsten Justesen, (Icelandic-Danish) sculptor Olafur Eliasson and sculptor Troels Sandegård. All, as I hope to show, operate with frozen material and concepts of frozen time that allow us to contemplate the human condition as physical reality but through a transformative lens of destabilization: melting, liquefying, evaporating.