Daniel Turner / Alchemical matters

New York based artist Daniel Turner in conversation with Maria Abramenko on his dissolution, transference, and transformation practices of austere beauty and poetry.

I will start by asking about your “Burning Entire Body of Work”, was that an artwork in itself? A performance? What is the story behind it?

In 2006 I was hospitalized for psychosis. One of the many revelations I had at the time was to burn the entire lot of my work to date. I was living in south east Virginia on a rural piece of property, which is where I burned everything. I never thought of this as an artwork, I simply needed to move the medium forward.

You work site specific and often ready made, why is that?

I work specific to the site because the site itself is very important to me. I’m speaking in terms of exhibition context (site) as well as the extraction of material from a given provenance (site). Site activates work and of course work activates site. There is a harmonious marriage between the two and when in tune, a particular lift occurs.

You had several important solo shows in big galleries (White Cube, Konig) to name a few. Which one was the most challenging to install?

Before installation begins I’ve probably worked through hundreds of drawings and several architectural models. I tend to work slow and methodically, through intuition. So by the time installation begins I have a fairly good idea of what’s ahead of me. Yet In 2016 I installed a sculpture titled, Particle Processed Cafeteria.

The sculpture itself took about six years to realize which consisted of grinding down a cafeteria to particle form, chemically modifying those particles and then spraying those particles, (former cafeteria) across the floor of Werner Düttmann brutalist church in Berlin.

Where, was the most particular or strangest location of your installations and why?

In 2009 I was granted a studio residency through The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. My studio was a 300 square foot yellowed formica Wall Street kitchen. That was probably the strangest location I’ve ever worked or exhibited artwork in. This environment had an enormous impact on me, leading me to produce a number of sculptures inspired by the room itself.

What are you working on at the moment?
For the past three years I have been extracting material out of various hospitals in preparation for an approaching exhibition at The Maria Leuff Foundation in New York. Two of the sculptures to be shown are created by melting psychiatric hospital facilities waiting rooms into solid form. These forms will be permanently inset into the actual exhibition floor, a transposition of one site to another.

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