Critics’ Picks

Amanda Ross-Ho, UNTITLED NOTHING FACTORY, 2011, mixed media, dimensions variable. Installation view.

Amanda Ross-Ho, UNTITLED NOTHING FACTORY, 2011, mixed media, dimensions variable. Installation view.

Austin

Amanda Ross-Ho

Visual Arts Center, University of Texas at Austin
2300 Trinity Street Art Building
January 28–March 12, 2011

As part of her six-week residency at the University of Texas’s Visual Arts Center, Amanda Ross-Ho enlisted the help of a small army of eager volunteers to help construct UNTITLED NOTHING FACTORY, 2011. The enterprise was open to whoever wanted to join, and participants could work as little or as much as they wanted at three different stations set up in the large vaulted gallery, making paper out of discarded documents from the offices of UT’s fine arts department, stretching canvases, or shaping pots or figures out of the massive amount of raw clay on hand. Cameras installed high above the action took photos at regular intervals to document the work’s progress.

When the installation was finished after two weeks, Ross-Ho went through and formalized the piece––220 stretched canvases are spaced evenly across the entire surface of the vast main wall, thousands of fired pots line shelves along another wall, and countless sheets of paper lie in careful stacks across the long table. Likewise, all the tools and flotsam of the working process––from electric cords and disposable coffee cups to notes left by visitors and even Ross-Ho’s red high-tops––have been enshrined by their meticulous placement in neat rows and sections. After days of flurried activity and bodies activating the space, it is strange to think of the work as crystallized and untouchable, and the FACTORY, partly because of its muted palette, seems to have been abandoned for longer than just a couple weeks. All artworks reach this reified stage in their development, but it is rare that viewers have the opportunity to experience the same care for the work that artists must feel for everything they produce.