How do artists push beyond what they already know and readily see? Can acts of engagement and exploration be works of art in themselves? In this episode, artists use their practices as tools for personal and intellectual discovery, simultaneously documenting and producing new realities in the process.
While enlisting the participation of the residents of a Bronx public housing development to develop a sprawling installation out of everyday materials, Thomas Hirschhorn poses political and philosophical questions, and searches for alternative models of thinking and being. The process leads to the creation of a new kind of monument that, while physically ephemeral, lives on in collective memory. For Graciela Iturbide, the camera is a pretext for understanding the world. Her principal concern has been the photographic investigation of Mexico—her own cultural environment—through black-and-white images of landscapes and their inhabitants, abstract compositions, and self-portraits. Whether photographing indigenous communities in her native country, cholos in Los Angeles, Frida Kahlo’s house, or the landscape of the American South, her interest, she says, lies in what her heart feels and what her eyes see. Leonardo Drew, whose art career began as a child in inner city Bridgeport, Connecticut, transforms new materials—through processes of decay, oxidization, and exposure to weather—in his sculptures. Never content with work that comes easily, Drew reaches daily beyond his comfort zone, charting a course of experimentation with his materials and processes and letting the work find its own way.