ICC Report


The Woody VASULKA Workshops

July 31 and August 7, 1998
Gallery D

The two workshops Woody VASULKA held in connection with The Brotherhood, an exhibition of his work, were almost identical in content. VASULKA talked about the concepts behind the work being shown and the background to his creation of a series of works. The focus of his presentation, however, was less on the specifics of the work than on the concept of brotherhood that provides the main motivation for it.

"Brotherhood," as VASULKA described it, is a concept rather difficult to grasp in a Japanese cultural context. Alternative terms might be the "male principle" or "masculinism," but we should not therefore be led to imagine that he is referring to an abstract concept with vague social or political implications. Rather, VASULKA describes it as approximating a broad term for a more unconscious obsession--male desires that are never sated. Those desires, rooted in sexual desire, are the forces driving technological development, particularly in this century. They have also been a factor behind modern warfare.

While VASULKA recycled military scrap for the main components of the work in this exhibition, he said that he did not want to create a simpleminded connection between his work and the image of actual weapons or war materiel. His position is that what he calls "Brotherhood" is one of the contemporary world's inevitable ideologies and should not be judged in any particular social and historical context. He regards it as an absolute--the motive force behind his own creative work, the energy fueling pure play with machines.

VASULKA repeatedly rejected concrete interpretations of his work, stressing the importance of his stance towards it, which can seem indeed like a pointless, content-free game. Finally, he brought the workshops to a close by saying that The Brotherhood series will, for reasons adumbrated above, be eternally incomplete. His life work is achieving the unpredictable through new encounters with machines, i.e., with technology.

[GOGOTA Hisanori]

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