According to MoMA (and who would know better than them when it comes to art?) the term found art applies to “existing objects, manufactured or of natural origin, used in, or as, works of art.” The point, as I understand it, is to question the boundaries of what art is by using objects that we don’t usually consider art and manipulating or changing them either by placing them in a space usually reserved for art—such as a museum—or by creating an instillation.
I am going to use the term found art in a different way. Well, maybe it’s different. I walk every morning with my friend Joanne and our dogs. Now Joanne is an artist. A real one. A fine one. Her work is evocative and emotionally alluring. I, on the other hand, am not. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have an artistic soul, or eye, or sensibility, whatever way you want to put it. I lack training and skill, yes, but interest no. So on our walks, Joanne and I frequently stop to admire the things we see around us and comment on them. We might see, for example, this path, and comment on the way the shadow lies across the grass suddenly plunging us from a spring day in Victoria to a winter’s day in France. (We actually refer to this path as France, as in, Hi Joanne, where do you want to walk today, shall we go to France?)
Or we find installations like this, lying in our neighbour’s garden, making us laugh. These people change their garden designs according to the season; right now we have just passed Valentine’s Day—hence the hearts.
And sometimes we find things like this intricate, delicate and oh so beautiful wasp’s nest with its paper thin layers almost collapsing on themselves.
(Wasp’s nest Photo by James Paul)
Joanne tells me about entropy, and the tension between order and disorder as we examine our find, and I think of my garden, currently in a state of disarray, and then I think that entropy is what the natural world is always doing.
So this is how I’m using the word found art. To express the tension between the world around us and the order and meaning we put on it. I see my garden as found art because it makes me think about the cycles of life. I see the wasps’ nest as art because its intricacy makes me re-examine my understanding of wasps’s minds, the pigs in hearts because they are a satire on a cheesy Hallmark day, and the path because it transports us out of our lives.