Tim Leibbrandt chats to Jared Ginsburg about ‘Two Ends of a Line’, his solo presentation at the recent FNB Joburg Art Fair. Ginsburg reflects on the joy of rediscovering abandoned works, his mnemonic systems and the erotic qualities of very quiet moments in his work.
Tim Leibbrandt: Could you tell us a bit about the idea behind your exhibition title ‘Two Ends of a Line’?
Jared Ginsburg: I’ll tell you that the title preceded the work in my proposal. When I proposed the exhibition I mentioned that it must contain at least one kinetic work. At that time, I felt like I was nearing the end of my inquiry into kinetic works, and I had that phrase in front of me “Two ends of a line”. That phrase served as a framework within which to conceptualise this body of work; it has come to describe the event where I go through my archive and find a work that is somehow connected through a lineage of sorts.
TL: Sort of like what you were discussing with your brother [Josh Ginsburg] about your recent solo exhibition ‘The Natural World parts 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6’ where works develop from previously existing components ?
JG: Yes, something like that. So I’ve been enjoying the phrase just for myself because even if this kinetic work serves as the end of a line, it is not necessarily the end because I might produce something else. But at the moment in the present it does embody the end of a line.
TL: And of course the idea of two ends of a line returns in works like these tape loops where you’re referring to things such as closed circles; the point where two ends of a line fuse.
JG: And then that point disappears, “the end” vanishes. The title phrase came before the inclusion of loops, particularly these loops [points to Tape Loops]and like you’ve just picked up, they are nice ways to make these oblique connections .
TL: I love the idea of cyclical time and loops, where the end and the beginning become the same point.
JG: One of my favourite parts of my practice is coming back to ideas which I’ve left behind, maybe months or even years before. Not having completely exhausted them, but having left them or shelved them for some or other reason and, with no conscious purpose, discovering them again with knowledge gathered over that interim time. It’s like being able to reengage with an old friend of an idea. And doing that many times over.
TL: I’d like to pick up on what you said about an “old friend of an idea”. Often if you find yourself separated from a good friend for a lengthy period of time for whatever reason, there’s that weird period of trying to see if your initial connections are still there. You’ve both grown in different ways from being exposed to different contexts. Do you find that your works tend to stay where they are while you develop or do you both find yourselves in different spaces?
JG: There are certain friends who have lived apart and there is that awkwardness of reconnection; that slippage before we get up to speed. And then there are other friends where there is no awkwardness or sense of lost time. I find a rediscovery or reencounter with certain ideas which I have left behind to be far more like that. I encounter them with joy and excitement.
TL [pointing to Tempo with 3 parts]: Would this be an example of a work where you have returned to pieces from your archive?
JG: Yes, this is an example of returning, but within a much shorter space of time. So instead of a period of years, which is the case with certain of my reunions with ideas, this one was a period of months. Both of the framed works on paper in this exhibition are acting as mnemonics, they are works which succinctly encapsulate ideas for me which are very personal.
TL: Can you talk a bit about the layering of personal shorthand in this piece?
JG: Let’s start with the tape. This was made during my last exhibition. How I know that is that I set myself the task of cleaning my studio. And this pile of torn-up drawing was sitting on a desk. It was actually destined for the bin. If I was more efficient, it would definitely be in the bin. But I got completely distracted and it remained on the desk. A lot of the works in that exhibition were made up of failed drawings which were used in collages to correct other ‘dead’ and failed drawings. So this drawing was ‘double fail’ and didn’t even make it into the b-team. And maybe it was that – that they were these things which were genuine particles of the discarded- which made them interesting again. So I followed a rule of placing them on a dirty piece of paper as a base.
TL: What were you painting on the sheet of paper? [points to spatter in top right corner]
JG: I was painting a hand, you can tell by the green. I must have been painting a soft sculpture years ago. I don’t know if you remember but I had a set of tools at the gallery during the last show.
TL: Yes, you were using them to add/remove elements during the course of the exhibition’s run.
JG: And that set included my glue and tape to make collage. So I did this as an exercise in order to not clean – I tend to do what I should not be doing- and what I was really surprised by is because of the circumstantial inclusion of the tape, something had occurred: a three part rhythm in terms of composition. You have the part of the tape, you have the part of the white paper and you have the third part of the ink blots on the white paper. Those three parts set up what I again call some sort of rhythm.
TL: Your reference to rhythmic components makes perfect sense, even in this work, Science Fiction (Gauges), there is a kind of rhythm which runs through the work as a whole with the constant kinetic cycles of the bamboo.
JG: It’s actually really interesting that you mentioned that because these two works were made simultaneously or at least within the presence of each other. So Tempo was made in 5 minutes and Gauges was slightly harder because I didn’t have access to a drywall so I couldn’t mount the motors as easily; I had to imagine how it would operate. But what I was enjoying was the similarities; I often describe them as being the same thing.
It’s the same formula of three elements, you have the black circles of the motor, the bamboo line and the black electrical cord. Even without the movement, for me they speak in the same language. With the movement there is a more literal rhythm as well.
TL: I Might be mistaken, but I think that I read somewhere that your actual bamboo sticks are used over and over? So could the bamboo also then be said to fill the role of a discarded past work?
JG: It will depend, I might have used these pieces of bamboo- in fact I know that I have because there are marks on these pieces which refer back to previous lives. What you’ll see on the tip is a piece of gaffer tape which says to me that this used to be a drawing rack for paper which didn’t work at all. I don’t know if that answers your question, but these things do have multiple lives. They get disassembled and reassembled as other things and depending on when these things stop.
TL: At what point do you consider a work to have “stopped”?
JG[referring to Studio companion]: This has been stopped, forever . This is how it will remain, until it decomposes. This existed in my studio, only when it’s published does it get stopped because of my tendency to disassemble and repurpose. So there’s been a weird thing for me where things sort of continue in their raw material state until they are published. And by published I mean any sort of final rendering.
TL: You mentioned that you weren’t afforded the opportunity to test the installation before its wall-mounted ‘final rendering’. Sounds hair-raising, could you tell us a bit about the installation of Gauges?
JG: That is the part which I am really enjoying about the work, the fact that I had never seen it prior, it was an imagined installation. The idea was that there were going to be two sets of five rows of dials. While installing, I placed four motors on the wall and some people came to mop the floor. The remaining six motors were still on the floor and to protect them from the water I had to hang them like a washing line on the existing wire. I walked to the corner and turned around and really enjoyed the density. In fact it was very similar to how it is now. Originally I had the tools to shorten the cords so that there was no slack, no curve and no excess cord, but in this configuration I became aware of these curves which occurred in relation to the hard lines which came together momentarily with the bamboo. Also, totally by accident, I can see a strong resemblance to one of my reclining nudes in the cords.
TL That’s hilarious, now that you’ve pointed it out, I can definitely see the resemblance to one of your nude drawings. It also doubles as sort of Duchampian nude actually with all the mechanical components. I love the fact that you seem to have an almost erotic fascination with your works.
JG: It’s really about the act of discovery and that latency, the time between the birth of something and when you suddenly find yourself deriving value from it. A month ago I was looking for another drawing and I encountered this one – Backstitch (quadrants) – via its backside and was very turned on by these very quiet moments: the peeking through of this bit of blue, this straight line with its counter curve, and these measurements which have been erased. That’s it really; it’s one of my favourite works on this stand. This is the thing which I would take home.