Fix an object you feel bad for. | Diana Shpungin | The Art Assignment | Summary and Q&A

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November 5, 2015
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The Art Assignment
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Fix an object you feel bad for. | Diana Shpungin | The Art Assignment

TL;DR

Artists Diana Shpungin and Rachel Whiteread use art to feel empathy for objects, whether it's through meticulously covering surfaces with graphite in an abandoned house or casting the interior of a soon-to-be-demolished home in concrete.

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Key Insights

  • 👏 Diana Shpungin's use of graphite marks and hand-drawn animations in her artwork reflects on the historical memory and emotions associated with abandoned homes.
  • 🧑‍🏭 Rachel Whiteread's casting of the interior of a house in concrete challenges traditional notions of preservation and acts as a monument to the structure and its history.
  • 🫥 Both artists encourage viewers to feel empathy for objects, applying their aesthetic to the act of repair and making it a visible part of the artwork.
  • 🥺 Shpungin believes that extending empathy towards objects can lead to empathy for people, animals, and the environment.
  • 🫥 Whiteread's "House" sculpture makes the absence of the demolished house visible, capturing negative spaces and preserving the history of the structure.
  • 🫵 The artwork of Shpungin and Whiteread invites viewers to reconsider their relationship with everyday objects and the emotions they can evoke.
  • 😑 The act of repair can be an artistic intervention, showcasing the repair process as an aesthetic choice and expression of empathy.

Transcript

NARRATOR: This episode of "The Art Assignment" is brought you by Squarespace. [MUSIC PLAYING] We're in Grand Rapids, Michigan, today for ArtPrize, an annual art competition decided by public vote and a jury of experts that takes over the city for 19 days. I'm standing outside of an artwork that's part of this year's ArtPrize, by Brooklyn-based arti... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the purpose of Diana Shpungin's artwork in Grand Rapids?

Diana Shpungin aims to explore the historical memory of a vacant house by covering it in graphite marks and projecting hand-drawn animations. The artwork reflects on the emotions associated with abandoned homes and memorializes the building's past.

Q: How does Rachel Whiteread's "House" sculpture express empathy for an object?

Rachel Whiteread cast the interior of a house before it was demolished, creating a ghost-like sculpture that pays tribute to the structure and the history of the surrounding area. The sculpture makes the absence of the house visible and captures its negative spaces in a positive form.

Q: Why does Diana Shpungin encourage viewers to feel empathy for objects?

Shpungin believes that by feeling empathy for objects, viewers can extend that empathy to people, animals, and the environment. The act of repairing neglected items can be a starting point for cultivating empathy and appreciation for the world around us.

Q: How does Rachel Whiteread's artwork challenge traditional notions of domestic life and city planning?

"House" challenges traditional notions by preserving and highlighting the interior of a house rather than the exterior. It prompts viewers to reflect on the history of the block, the impact of bombings during WWII, and the changing ideals of domesticity.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Diana Shpungin collaborates with curators to cover a vacant house in Grand Rapids with graphite marks, projecting hand-drawn animations through selected windows. The installation reflects on the historical memory of the building and the emotions associated with abandoned homes.

  • Rachel Whiteread creates a concrete sculpture of a house by casting its interior, capturing its geometry and details. "House" becomes a monument to the structure and the history of the surrounding area.

  • Both artists encourage viewers to feel empathy for objects and apply their aesthetic to repair abandoned or neglected items, making the repair obvious and showcasing the act of empathy.

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