Angela Bulloch: Heavy Metal Stack: Fat Cyan Three (PART II)

On September 16, the Phillips unveiled a new sculpture by Angela Bulloch on the corner of 21st and Q Streets. We asked Angela a few questions about her artwork. Read Part I of the interview here.

Heavy Metal Stack: Fat Cyan Three, 2018, Powder coated steel, Made possible with support from Susan and Dixon Butler, Nancy and Charles Clarvit, John and Gina Despres, A. Fenner Milton, Eric Richter, Harvey M. Ross, George Vradenburg and The Vradenburg Foundation

Heavy Metal Stack: Fat Cyan Three, 2018, Powder coated steel, Made possible with support from Susan and Dixon Butler, Nancy and Charles Clarvit, John and Gina Despres, A. Fenner Milton, Eric Richter, Harvey M. Ross, George Vradenburg and The Vradenburg Foundation

How do you think Heavy Metal Stack: Fat Three Cyan fits with the Phillips? How did you choose these colors/this size for this commission?

The colors were chosen to contrast with the surrounding area. The color—cyan blue—is not only the opposite color of the orange bricks but it’s also an important color used often around Washington, DC. I’ve placed the lighter color on the underside of the sculpture for the first time with the plan that it would be illuminated from the ground up at night because I thought that would be a good artificial inversion. The sun will illuminate the sculpture from above during the day in the usual way.

How does your modern/minimalist sculpture change when placed in front of a brick house built in 1897? How does it interact with the surrounding area of Dupont Circle?

This work is neither a modern nor a minimal sculpture. The techniques used in its fabrication date the sculpture—it could not have been made like this before the 1990s, really. Aesthetically I think it fits in well with the surroundings—Dupont Circle or in front of a building made about 100 years prior to the technology used for its making. The contrast between the sculpture and the building behind it is deliberately sharp.

Heavy Metal Stack: Fat Cyan Three at night

Heavy Metal Stack: Fat Cyan Three at night

What do you want people to think/feel when they see your artwork?

I don’t like to prescribe people’s feelings, but when I look at the sculpture I think it looks alien, bold yet comfortably present, holding the corner as it does, and I cannot resist the temptation to ascribe human qualities to it despite the fact that it is anything but human. Although I think wishing to humanize blind objects reveals something more about me rather than the sculpture.

Much of your work incorporates time-based elements, such as shifting light patterns, sound, and interactive mechanisms. On the contrary, Heavy Metal Stack: Fat Cyan Three is a static object. How do you envision audiences interacting with your sculpture at the Phillips?

Oh that’s not a question that I can answer. I have many thoughts but no statement . . . let’s ask the audience.

Angela Bulloch: Heavy Metal Stack: Fat Cyan Three (PART I)

On September 16, the Phillips unveiled a new sculpture by Angela Bulloch on the corner of 21st and Q Streets. We asked Angela a few questions about her artwork. Stay tuned for Part II of the interview.

Angela Bulloch with her sculpture. Heavy Metal Stack: Fat Cyan Three, 2018, Powder coated steel, Made possible with support from Susan and Dixon Butler, Nancy and Charles Clarvit, John and Gina Despres, A. Fenner Milton, Eric Richter, Harvey M. Ross, George Vradenburg and The Vradenburg Foundation

Angela Bulloch with her sculpture. Heavy Metal Stack: Fat Cyan Three, 2018, Powder coated steel, Made possible with support from Susan and Dixon Butler, Nancy and Charles Clarvit, John and Gina Despres, A. Fenner Milton, Eric Richter, Harvey M. Ross, George Vradenburg and The Vradenburg Foundation

You were born in Canada, studied in the UK at Goldsmiths College, and are now based in Berlin. Can you talk about what drew you on this trajectory and how it has impacted your work?

I was born in the middle of nowhere in Canada, a very remote and small place, and yet I always wanted to live in the city, where all the people and museums are and such. I had to wait until I was old enough to go and study at college and that was in London. From there it was easy to visit many other cities and I found Berlin exciting and possible to live in, for a whole combination of reasons. I continue to travel frequently, in all directions.

Your work is known for your exploration of mathematical, social, and aesthetic systems and structures alongside aesthetics. What appeals to you about how they intersect?

The interesting thing about systems is that they order your time, your life, the environment in such a way that the mistakes or anomalies jump out at you. When the pattern is broken you feel it. If the note is wrongly played on a musical score you instantly know about it. The ruptures are interesting.

You demonstrate extraordinary conceptual creativity in a wide variety of media, including sculpture, light, sound, and video installation. Have you always been interested in working in diverse media or have you found yourself organically exploring different materials?

I find it more interesting to work across or with various different media because then I can focus on the ideas or the dynamics of a situation rather than only on the media itself.

Tell us about your Stack series.

I think of them as the Rhombus series, referring to the four sided shapes or rhombi within the three dimensional rhomboid form, but, yes, some of them are stacks or the same forms stacked on top of one another that forms a stack. There is one group I have made that I call Totem Pillar works because the forms stand on top of one another in a stack or a totem and that Totem stands then on top of a pillar. The basic unit is a four sided shape – a rhombus.

How do you make them? What is your inspiration for these sculptures?

At first I conceive of them within the virtually real place inside a computer using 3D drawing programs. It’s easy to play around with forms inside a space like that right up until you try to actually make them. Then after that it becomes more complicated, the simple 3D drawings are converted into engineering files which have to be very precise and self-sustaining. The sculptures eventually have to stand up in the real world under conditions of gravity, so the drawings often need some adjustments at this point—a reality check of sorts. Then the material is cut and puzzled together, the surfaces are treated in many different ways, the base plate (the means of attachment to the ground) is considered and chosen appropriately for the environment where it will end up. This one here was made to stand outside in all weather and has been prepared for that.

Can you please describe this particular sculpture and its creation?

This one started with the context—I was asked to make a new sculpture specifically for the site outside The Phillips Collection, a commission. I tried out several versions and settled on a larger scale piece that holds the corner spot with more authority than a slimmer work that was the same height might have done.

Staff Show 2018: Gregory Logan Dunn

In this series, Manager of Visitor and Family Engagement Emily Bray highlights participants in This Is My Day Job: The 2018 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show, on view through September 30, 2018.

Decontrol by Gregory Logan Dunn

Decontrol by Gregory Logan Dunn

Tell us about yourself.

I create paintings by dragging multiple layers of paint one over the other in order to reveal the layers underneath through the tearing and fracturing of the layers above. It’s to achieve these small areas of color within the larger field that are saturated by the history of this layering. Occasionally the field becomes beautiful and then subsequently must be destroyed. Only through this method can the shallow graves of better angels be revealed.

What do you do at The Phillips Collection? Are there any unique or interesting parts about your job that most people might not know about?

I am a Museum Assistant at The Phillips Collection. I interact with visitors, provide information and directions, and frequently have conversations about the art. Sometimes I engage in these conversations less than two feet away from some very beautiful art. This usually means the person who I am talking to is standing too close to the art because they love it so.

Who is your favorite artist in the collection?

Gene Davis’s Red Devil is my favorite piece in The Phillips Collection. Sam Gilliam’s Petals is also a favorite. I love Bonnard.

What is your favorite space within The Phillips Collection?

I really love the third floor of the Sant Building, right next to the Goh Annex. It has so much space but it still draws you in and has a intimate feel overall. I love the skylight as well.

What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2018 Staff Show (or your work in general)?

This is the first acrylic work I’ve completed in over a year, after spending 2017 and most of 2018 working in oil. I’m working on a number of pieces in acrylic right now and I’m very excited about the work. The speed at which I’m able to work is gratifying, but also exerting because of the dry time. I have less time to work so I am relinquishing some power over the work. That is the source of the title Decontrol. I am giving over some control in the inception of the work in order to foment its creation.

This Is My Day Job: The James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show is on view through September 30, 2018. Join us for a reception in the exhibition on September 20, 5-7 pm.