The Man Who Mistook A Stand For His Art
These are stills from “Metal Sculpture”, a wonderful 1979 film by the New York sculptor B. Wurtz which just went live (as a video) in the new issue of the online magazine called Triple Canopy. (Click on the stills to watch the footage.) The premise is simple, and charming: Wurtz talks about a new metal sculpture he’s discovered and which he assembles as we watch; it turns out to be a perfectly normal folding music stand. His (pretend) inability to recognize the object as the functional thing it is, and his desire to treat it only as art, is a kind of condensation of the spirit that animates a lot of the best art making. I’ve referred to it as aesthetic agnosia – an ability to perceive the stuff in the world but not to recognize what it is or how it works, like the famous Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. Wurtz turns himself into The Man Who Mistook His Stand For His Art, and by doing so, made it so.
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