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← Lynda Benglis: "The Wave of the World" | ART21 "Exclusive"

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Showing Revision 1 created 09/30/2015 by Amara Bot.

  1. [Lynda Benglis: "The Wave of the World"]
  2. [SOUND OF CICADAS]
  3. I feel that all artists are in a kind of situation
  4. that patterns their early memories.
  5. I was born in Louisiana--
  6. Lake Charles, Louisiana.
  7. I remember taking little sticks and little mossy forms
  8. and somebody told me that you could make a boat that way,
  9. with a leaf, and a stick, and a mossy form.
  10. So I began playing with what was on the ground a lot--
  11. just thinking about nature.
  12. I think all children do that.
  13. Later, I would travel the bayous in the motorboat.
  14. Louisiana had a whole area of waterways
  15. that then lead to the Gulf.
  16. So there were all kinds of channels and waterways,
  17. and I knew them.
  18. I really preferred being on the water in that way
  19. and discovering all these different things--
  20. boats that had sunken many years ago.
  21. [SOUND OF RAIN DROPS HITTING WOODEN BOARDS]
  22. [Queens, New York]
  23. [SOUND OF METAL CHAINS CLANKING]
  24. [Bob Spring, Modern Art Foundry]
  25. [BOB SPRING] This is a little bit like,
  26. "Welcome back, Lynda."
  27. Lynda made the model for this--
  28. this piece--
  29. in this room.
  30. [SOUNDS OF POWER TOOLS AGAINST METAL]
  31. [BENGLIS] I was so grateful.
  32. I thought it could have been lost at sea;
  33. I didn't know where it was,
  34. and then I saw it being stored in Louisiana.
  35. Now, those people that know it and know the history
  36. can see the fountain!
  37. It was a World's Fair contest in New Orleans;
  38. it was the last World's Fair in 1984.
  39. So I entered my idea, which was a wave.
  40. I've always been intrigued by waves--
  41. not the large ones that you see at Acapulco and the Pacific,
  42. you know where they roll in and they could....
  43. But I was always intrigued by these little Gulf waves
  44. because that's the first that I saw.
  45. I think it was maybe in the Seventies,
  46. I had the idea of doing fountains.
  47. Because really, what I was doing with the urethane
  48. was a frozen kind of liquid form,
  49. and I thought that that liquid form could be so beautifully extended with water.
  50. I had done waves off the wall.
  51. For this, I wanted to do a free-standing one.
  52. I did this seventeen-and-a-half foot cantilever in bronze
  53. of the idea of this liquid bronze umbrella-ing out and having water.
  54. [BOB SPRING] And she constructed the model for this out of foam.
  55. [BENGLIS] One-to-one ratio, six-pound density polyurethane foam.
  56. I was using a wire structure underneath,
  57. and in this case, I had the idea of the weather balloon.
  58. [BOB SPRING] So she had underneath here the original shape of this
  59. and then covered with plastic.
  60. And then she started applying the foam
  61. and letting it run.
  62. And the whole room had to all be sealed off,
  63. and she was in a...
  64. well, today you would almost call it a space suit,
  65. because the fumes from this were a little bit toxic.
  66. And so we had to bring fresh air in from outside--
  67. it went through a tube into her little uniform.
  68. After she was finished with the model,
  69. we made the molds on it.
  70. And we made the casting.
  71. Inside is an arrangement of pipes,
  72. water chambers, and everything else.
  73. And it's very nice to have it back.
  74. And we'll take care of it for her,
  75. and everything else.
  76. [JEFFREY SPRING] I mean, this piece was in a storage area
  77. for years after the World's Fair,
  78. so it's aged.
  79. [Jeffrey Spring, Modern Art Foundry]
  80. The surface needs to be restored--or re-colored--
  81. to her satisfaction.
  82. As long as the water works right, that's what really is left.
  83. --[BENGLIS] Okay, so no tooling, right?
  84. --Nothing?
  85. --[MAN] We just cut the gates...
  86. --[BENGLIS] Yeah, yeah...
  87. --[MAN] ...and give a finish on the surface.
  88. --[BENGLIS] Good. Okay, let's have the water.
  89. [SOUND OF WATER SPLASHING AGAINST CONCRETE]
  90. [BENGLIS] I was very excited to find that it was still in existence.
  91. [Kenner, Louisiana]
  92. It was in a sort of heap of things out in the open,
  93. and forgotten about--
  94. totally forgotten about.
  95. I had thought the hurricane might have cast it away
  96. and it was some anchor somewhere.
  97. [SOUND OF WATER SPLASHING IN FOUNTAIN]
  98. [New Orleans, Louisiana]
  99. [On label: Lynda Benglis; American, born 1941;
    "The Wave of the World," 1983–1984; Bronze;
    On loan from City of Kenner;
    Underwritten by The Helis Foundation]
  100. I think of my work as being very classical.
  101. Essentially, I think I repeat ideas of nature,
  102. and I process them and interpret them.
  103. I realize that what we learn to do
  104. is repress our titillations
  105. or our feelings about what we see
  106. and we call it 'taste'.
  107. What is the way we see?
  108. What do we respond to without creating a taste
  109. that's agreeable to everyone?
  110. I'm not trying to satisfy anyone.
  111. I really make things because I'm curious--
  112. that's the reason.
  113. I don't think of shows,
  114. I don't think of anything other than,
  115. "It's exciting for me to feel that same excitement"
  116. "that I felt as a kid."