As anyone who reads this blog knows, I am particularly interested in art that oscillates between studio and street, high and “low,” and public and private. I find Shin Shin’s work brilliant for this reason: she creates works in ephemeral materials for the street and archival materials for the gallery, all the while documenting the works’ changes and existence in high-resolution photography. Her gallery work is inspired by her street art, and vice versa, and her practice is an interesting cyclical process that considers longevity, ownership, and ephemerality.
At the Satellite Show this fall, I showed two Seed Pod works by Shin Shin. These pieces are printed on archival cotton rag in limited editions of ten. They perfectly held their own on the gallery wall and sold quickly.
However, this is not the only life these images have had. This spring, the artist printed these designs on a thin newsprint and hung them with wheat paste around Soho. They became embedded in the urban decay at the same time their archival counterparts sat comfortably in a white-walled gallery.
Yesterday, while walking on Thompson Street, I saw the vestiges of one of these pieces. Torn on the sides and bottom, it seems that people have tried, unsuccessfully, to steal the work, to make this inherently public installation a private one. By using newsprint, the artist prevents this, and instead the damaged and weakened work is left to dissolve quietly. It’s still beautiful – the power of decay and change is never lost on a city like New York – and it becomes a conversation about fragility and ephemerality.
I think an image that can withstand different settings, different purposes, and the ravages of time is the most wonderful kind of art.