- Courtesy of the artist and SEASON gallery
- Seattle artist Dylan Neuwirth's Maker's Mark from memory. So right, so wrong.
How solid is a liquor bottle you're going to empty, recycle, and then replace with a replica you'll then empty, recycle, and then replace with a replica you'll then...? Solidity becomes a funny idea in this context.
The basic answer is that of course it's solid. Solid as anything.
A goofy answer is that glass is liquid, always.
Another answer is that it's not even there, it's not solid at all, it's always in the process of being turned into something else—it's just a carrier for the burning-throat feeling and pleasant drunkenness you're using it for. It's not the thing itself.
This is why Dylan Neuwirth's sculpture of a Maker's Mark bottle from memory is such a funny, resounding little object. It sits on a glass dining-room table at SEASON, Robert Yoder's home gallery in Ravenna.
When you first see it, you think, "That looks familiar." When you learn it's a copy of a Maker's bottle, you think, "Oh, yes, yes, yes, it is, got it." But what have you got exactly? The parts of it that seem wrong, you attribute to your faulty memory. When you learn that the artist made it from memory, it's a pleasure to know how very wrong it is, how funny the original shape actually is, how skinny this one is by comparison. How particular form is. Form and color.
As a memory of a liquor bottle, it is perfect, since memory is like this, clear but hazy. An object that's a memory, a memory that's an object, should be like this.
Yoder told me Neuwirth has also made other sculptures from memory, including a bike stripped of its tires and chained. Could you make a bike from memory? It sounds simple. Ultimately, his bike from memory, I'm told—I haven't seen it—makes that same familiarity-then-not impression, that recognition followed by the sudden creepy feeling that can happen with a friend or lover when you realize all at once that you haven't known them at all.
Neuwirth is also working on some high-gloss, high-concept, art-world-parody, stunty stuff. I'm not as interested in that. But he is an interesting artist, period. Watch him. Oh, and here's a picture of a Maker's bottle for comparison.