"Art is not eternal."
- Tom Wolfe, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
"For A Limited Time Only" is an exhibit of ephemeral art curated by Olga Stefan. It showcases seven works that will all change substantially during the three-week run of the show.
Shawn Stucky created an edible catalog.
Jess Witte created birdseed doilies, which will get scattered or eaten by birds.
Annie Heckman stacked glow-in-the-dark bones which could collapse like a house of cards,
Marci Rubin's ice-filled cornstarch packaging "hives" will dissolve, and Wendy Kveck's large cake sculptures will wilt, rot and ooze.
As different as the works are, the answer from each artist about their desire to make a non-permanent piece of art was largely the same: that all things are ephemeral. Another shared value was a strong attachment to art process, as ephemeral art needs to be constantly re-created. As Jess Witte said, "it's something of an exercise in futility".
Both of these sentiments can be viewed as a direct reaction to the larger art world that has become transformed into a marketplace of cultural products. Ephemeral art has always been anti-consumerism, as it's terribly hard to sell. Especially in Wendy Kveck's practice of mixing paints with marshmallow fluff, which will not only degrade but attract ants. Labor-intensive works, sometimes described as "obsessive art", can also be viewed as reaction to a marketplace mentality, one that pushes artists into quick production mode.
Anti-consumerism habits in art-making have changed since the 1970's - not just in the desire to work with recycled materials, but the desire to not be a cog in the wheel that produces stacks of the "stuff" that fills rooms and clutters the planet. This is art that goes away.
In the larger sense, although it's an attempt to move away from many of the material ties that bind artists to product and consumerism, it's also a refreshing take on the mass exodus from decorative art, as none of these pieces will ever work as "something to hang above the couch."