Dialectic of Failure
Known for his inventive practice of developing bodies of work that navigate the spaces between cultural and socio-economical registers, Vancouver-based Babak Golkar’s Dialectic of Failure is presented in three parts. Each incorporates clay, which Golkar uses here to speak to the painstaking and delicate nature of compromise and negotiation between dichotomies: historicism and modernity, art and craft, modern reasoning and traditional mysticism.
Golkar’s engagement with the idea of craft derives from his interest in the slow process, which allows for a different model of production and time for thoughts and reflections; a model that can be studied and adapted to address imbalances in contemporary life.
In one component of the exhibit, Golkar presents 30 terracotta “scream pots.” Resembling organs, these participatory works are designed to muffle the sound of a scream. Visitors can pick up a pot and scream into it; the diverse shapes of the pots give each cry a uniquely repressed sound. A second component includes a digital projection that captures the act of someone forcibly throwing lumps of clay against a sheet of drywall. The audible impact of the clay hitting the wall is recorded, as are the marks and stains left behind by the clay when it falls to the floor. The third component, exhibited in a room adjacent to the projection, is the actual sheet of drywall with its accumulation of stains. In the afterimage, there are vaguely discernable and familiar shapes, such as mouths and faces. On the floor below are the shaped, bent, folded and flattened lumps of clay, now an earthy red/brown and fused permanently by firing in a kiln.
Underlying these works are themes of suppression and emotional distress as contemporary human conditions. People are compelled to react, or to scream, in response to fear or pent-up emotion from continual and mounting pressures that are often unexplainable by reason. At once poetic yet literal, thoughtful yet mischievous and playful, Dialectic of Failure points to the complexity of our time beyond our binary understanding of it. Golkar invites the viewer to re-evaluate material and the function of craft object as well as the function of art object while considering the limitations of reason as the sole means of understanding and coping with challenges of the contemporary world.
Please visit the Shop for a copy of the Museum's publication of Babak Golkar's work.