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Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s Large-scale Outdoor Installations and the Dingpolitik: On the Analysis of the Spring

  • Journal of History of Modern Art
  • 2023, (54), pp.7-37
  • Publisher : 현대미술사학회
  • Research Area : Arts and Kinesiology > Art > Arts in general > Art History
  • Received : October 25, 2023
  • Accepted : November 25, 2023
  • Published : December 31, 2023

Seunghan Paek 1

1부산대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

In this paper, I analyze the installation piece entitled Spring that Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen made in 2006 which is located at the starting point of the Cheonggye Stream, through which to explore the possibility of enacting the politics of things. While the work reflects Oldenburg’s style which provokes exaggeration, humor, and a sense of the extraordinary, it brought forth a number of criticisms due to the fact that it is not tightly woven together with its site and thus remains a cliched landmark. Attentive to such aspects, I question if such criticisms about the work could be sustainable in proposing an alternative politics, and if refashioning Oldenburg’s early experimental works before his commitment into large-scale installation could suggest new perspectives and ways of doing in speculating about the political in the present tense. In order to answer to these questions, I aim to conduct three units of research. First is to examine Oldenburg’s work in the 1960s in which he mediated the streams of contemporary art such as installation, performance, and pop art. During this period, he focused on expressing his critical perceptions about the lives of the metropolis such as New York and London with humor and exaggeration. Second is about the process in which Oldenburg met van Bruggen and Frank Gehry and then tried to expand his ideas about the relationship of object and monument. As Oldenburg already suggested various versions of large-scale monument through a number of sketches, encountering with those two colleagues worked as crucial opportunities to materialize his ideas in public space. However, it seems that such a process deprived Oldenburg of the politically radical attitude that he once had and rather made him focus on objects that look depoliticized. With such a transition in mind, in the last part of the investigation I will read Bruno Latour’s concept called Dingpolitik. His concept aspires to search for an alternative form of politics by proposing an assembly made by both human and nonhuman actors. By activating Dingpolitik in rereading Oldenbrug and van Bruggen, I aim to explore the present value of their work which is not limited to the artists and their thoughts, thereby embracing the dispersed and heterogeneous nature of things being assembled from the scratch.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.