Jun 14, 2013 – Sep 7, 2013
Raivo Puusemp: Dissolution is the first comprehensive overview of Puusemp’s work produced between the mid-1960s and late 1970s. Puusemp is a conceptual artist who is interested in steering people into unwittingly completing his pieces by taking an action the artist had laid out as the next obvious step.
In 1975, Raivo Puusemp was elected as Mayor of the troubled town of Rosendale, New York. What the residents did not know, and what his campaign did not reveal, was that Puusemp was a conceptual artist who would later come to view his appointment and the situation as an artwork known as Rosendale, a public work. During his tenure, he applied the work he had been doing as an artist, in group dynamic and predictive behavior, to the political problems of the town and was successful in guiding them to a resolution – the dissolution of Rosendale.
Puusemp documented this process through a series of official letters, documents and press clippings, from which a booklet was later published. Following the dissolution of the town, Puusemp resigned his post, relocating to Utah with his family. He removed himself from the art context and from his practice as an artist.
The exhibition is organized by Krist Gruijthuijsen (NL), director of the Grazer Kunstverein, and has shown at the Grazer Kunstverein (Graz, Austria) and the Project Arts Centre (Dublin, Ireland). The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (Salt Lake City, US) will be the exhibition’s final stop where the last remaining piece created by Puusemp lives as a part of the Salt Lake Art Center collection.
UMOCA will host a curator talk with curator Krist Gruijthuijsen July 23 at 7 pm.
Krist Gruijthuijsen, director of the Grazer Kunstverein, is also the co-founding director of Kunstverein, Amsterdam and course director of the MA Fine Arts program at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam.
Raivo Puusemp was born in Estonia in 1942 and emigrated at a young age to the U.S. He went on to study at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and moved to New York City after graduating in 1966. At that time, his artistic practice was concerned with the construction of phenomenological sculptural works which gave physical presence to Puusemp’s observations of the natural and social world. In 1969, while involved with an underground art group in New York City, Puusemp developed an interest in group dynamics and social and political processes. Some of his early artistic activity included works he called “influence pieces”. Becoming concerned with the manipulative aspects of this practice, Raivo moved into politics where influence and concept come together compatibly. In 1975 he was elected mayor of a small village and had the opportunity to apply his interest in aesthetic structure and form to the political situation at hand.
Currently, Puusemp is based in Provo.