The prospect of ephemeral art is making me really very excited!

Today i started my new module – Taking Time: Exploring Ephemeral Practices.

What on earth is that all about you may ask? Well i asked the same thing and basically ephemeral art is art that has a transitory nature, it exists only briefly, in only moment in time. So, for instance things like sound, performance art, street art, installations, etc. are some of the things that are featured in ephemeral art.

If you know me you will know how this just sounds like my kinda thing and you would be right, i am so so so excited to start this module! I can bring the artsy side of myself into my jewellery, not purely the design aspect that i have been focusing on. Not only that, but i can create really interesting pieces, pieces that affect people and that people can interactive with; which is something i am so interested in.


As an introduction to the course we went over some examples of artists working within the field of ephemeral art, so i thought i’d take this wee blog post to collect some of my favourites together and share them with you.


Anya Gallaccio

Anya uses natural materials, in this case beautiful flowers, and takes them out of their environments and into a gallery space. The work is then left to decompose.

The change in the artwork over time:


Marina Abramovic


Something about this idea ^ is completely brilliant. I love everything about it, the ideas behind it, the form of pshycological observations that can be made, the interaction with people that is unexpected, the responses of the public, and in itself the art of the naked human form. It’s beautiful.


This one ^ just made me giggle. There is something very primal and strange about it.


Tehching Hseih

I very much admire this man’s dedication to his art. He takes out whole years of his life and dedicates them to some form of performance art. One year he punched a time clock every hour on the hour for a whole year. Part of me wonders if this is art. Part of me wonders if his effort was worth it. But the other part of me is telling me to be quiet and remeber that anything can be art and everything is art and it is always worth it. Anyway here is a clip of his clock punching (a photo was also taken to document each punch of the clock):


We will stay together for one year and never be alone. We will be in the same room at the same time, when we are inside. We will be tied together at the waist with an 8 foot rope. We will never touch each other during the year.” ironically they discovered after a short period of time that they didn’t actually like each other all that much.


Joseph Beuys

In May 1974 Beuys flew to New York and was taken by ambulance to the site of the performance, a room in the René Block Gallery on East Broadway. Beuys lay on the ambulance stretcher swathed in felt. He shared this room with a wild coyote, for eight hours over three days. At times he stood, wrapped in a thick, grey blanket of felt, leaning on a large shepherd’s staff. At times he lay on the straw, at times he watched the coyote as the coyote watched him and cautiously circled the man, or shredded the blanket to pieces, and at times he engaged in symbolic gestures, such as striking a large triangle or tossing his leather gloves to the animal; the performance continuously shifted between elements that were required by the realities of the situation, and elements that had purely symbolic character. At the end of the three days, Beuys hugged the coyote that had grown quite tolerant of him, and was taken to the airport. Again he rode in a veiled ambulance, leaving America without having set foot on its ground. As Beuys later explained: ‘I wanted to isolate myself, insulate myself, see nothing of America other than the coyote.’” The main beauty,ignoring the symbolism and metaphors, i see in this piece is the relationship between human and wild animal.


Alastair MacLennan

I don’t know that much about him but i liked this little video he did about the nature of ephemeral art:



Hayley Newman

Kiss ExamIn Kiss Exam I perform kissing against a wall with a volunteer while attempting to write my consequent sensations on a pad mounted on the wall next to me.” I love the idea of a documentation of something like a kiss.

Crying Glasses (An Aid to Melancholia) “Over a year I wore the crying glasses while travelling on public transport in all the cities I visited. The glasses functioned using a pump system which, hidden inside my jacket allowed me to pump water up out of the glasses and produced a trickle of tears down my cheeks. The glasses were conceived as a tool to enable the representation of feelings in public spaces. Over the months of wearing the glasses they became an external mechanism which enabled the manifestation of internal and unidentifiable emotions.” I think i need a pair of these. Something about this piece really speaks to me. I often find it hard to express my true emotions. I can identify with her need to use an external source to express her inner unhappiness.

Human ResourcesOver a 9 – 5 working period I sat in the offices of Obero and captured my breath in over 3,000 plastic sandwich bags. During the period, breaks totalling one and half-hours were taken for lunch and tea. The work was an attempt to quantify and produce a visual record of the amount of breath breathed out during a working day.” There is something really beautiful about this one. If you take away the ideas of work, you can quantify the results of the plastic bags as the life of a single human being during the course of a single day.

StealthOver 3 hours I jumped up and down on a trampoline in complete darkness. A small flashing red light attached to my body and the sound of my movements were the only two things indicative of any activity. Prior to the event I had instructed its organiser to enter at any point during the three-hour performance and take a single photograph with a flash to document the work. This is the only image of the work as no other photography was allowed.” This piece is so suggestive, it in itself has very little to it, the artwork is the idea of what is going on and what the imagination invents within the darkness.


Marie Cool and Fabio Balducci

I like what this pair are trying to achieve. Documentation of the effects of really simple actions.


Christian Marclay

One piece of his work i found quite interesting was Guitar Drag where he hooked up an electric guitar to an amp in the back of a truck and threw the guitar out the back so it dragged along the road as the truck drove, and he recorded the sound coming from the amp as the road “played” the guitar (in this clip you can hear the original recording but it is not the original footage):


Another piece of his that is astounding is The Clock (he is another artist whose dedication to his work i can very much admire), which this BBC video talks about:



Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller

This pair of artists have created a beautiful creative concept around the world of audio/visual guides. Instead of the usual dry descriptions of history and explanations of the various objects and places around you as you walk with a guided tour, these walks take you into a new world. Through audio Janet Cardiff describes little happenings within the area you are walking through but on the day she was there, so everything is different but also the same. You can hear the recordings from that day as well as the sounds that are coming through the headphones. I can imagine it being a very surreal experience. It’s like being inside a narrative story, you as the main character but also separate from the story. I’d love to do one. Visit Walks for more info.



There was many more and are many more but i’m running out of energy! In my next post i’ll have done a wee bit more research and will have a look at more ephemeral artists that i personally really like.


Well that post was quite long. But i did tell you i was excited! If you read all of that you deserve a cookie, go on go grab one and make yourself a cup of tea and then come back and drop me a comment and tell me your thoughts on all of this? Need a prompt? Answer me this: what is art? or what do you consider art to be? tough question huh?


Chloe out.


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