The Californian conceptual artist Robert Kinmont (b. 1937 in Los Angeles, lives in Sonoma, CA, USA) is primarily concerned with his environment, the Californian landscape. He works with simple, mostly natural materials, and places these in relation to his body and his life. Probably his best known work, entitled 8 Natural Handstands (1969/2005), a series of photographs showing the artist doing handstands in abandoned landscapes, on the edges of cliffs, river beds, forests and deserts, was illustrated in Lucy Lippard’s famous book ‘Six Years; The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972’. Here he uses photography to document a balancing act, a temporary existential experience in the landscape. A second series of photographs entitled My Favorite Dirt Roads (1969/2008) shows black-and-white, documentary-style depictions of streets from around his home town. In an interview Kinmont describes these pictures, charged with personal memories, with lots of humorous details and lived experience. His extraordinary personal access to the existential experience of life repeatedly places the dynamic between artist, art work and the context of the work, often the landscape, at the centre of his practice. The works are in many cases characterised by a certain structural openness. The processes involved are seen as an integral part of the work. The realisation can deviate from the idea. This is true, for example, of the work entitled Copper Pots (Given a Chance, 1972), a collection of copper vessels that the artist placed in the ground in a dried-up, deserted landscape, hoping that the water he poured into the vessels every day would encourage the growth of plants. After a while he recognised this hope as illusory, but discovered his daily hike, tending to the pots and avoiding leaving traces in the landscape as a primary aspect of the work. The works Listen 1, 2, 3 (2010-11) give the Californian artist’s first European institutional solo exhibition in Kunsthaus Glarus its title. In open wooden boxes, Kinmont is showing a rather puzzling collection of personal found objects, goose and duck feathers, a piece of granite and personal notes. The work Home Sweet Home (2010-11), and the work 1 Cubic Foot of California (2011) show, both again in wooden boxes, soil from his home town, with pillows or a shovel. Simple, direct human experience in an everyday environment characterise all his works. One would almost imagine one was poetically on the trail of the transience of the moment.
With texts by Alexandra Blättler, Stefanie Böttcher, Robert Kinmont, Aoife Rosenmeyer, Sabine Rusterholz Petko
- Robert Kinmont
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