Shattered Glass sculptures by Walead Beshty exploring the journey of the art

Shattered Glass sculptures by Walead Beshty

One series of works that have always intrigued me and also angered so many people in the comments, is a series of sculptures by artist Walead Beshty. In this series that started in 2005-2014, we see cardboard FedEx shipping boxes standing up with glass sculptures setting on top and beside the boxes. These glass sculptures are made to fit perfectly within these boxes and are the works of art themselves and their damaged cracks and breaks are part of the artwork’s journey and creation. 

While we try our best to package our content as safely as we can, we know that often the mail delivery company might not handle it with as much care as it should be. Often shipping works of art can be the most stressful as so much could go wrong. Beshty decided he would face this issue head-on and document it within a series of works. Allowing him to accurately showcase the journey of a piece of art into a physical sculpture. He would place the shatterproof glass sculpture within its matching shipping box and ship it without any form of protection, and on its way to the gallery, it went. Each time it was shipped to a new gallery new markings, and cracks would accrue. 

In an interview with Walead Beshty conducted by Mikkel Carl a few years ago this is what Beshty has to say about the FexEx sculptures. “ There’s a multitude of ways to understand any object; the history of sculptural production is one. I’m assuming you’re asking about the FedEx works, which initially interested me because they’re defined by a corporate entity in legal terms. There’s a copyright designating the design of each FedEx box, but there’s also the corporate ownership over that very shape. It’s a proprietary volume of space, distinct from the design of the box, which is identified through what’s called a SSCC #, a Serial Shipping Container Code. I considered this volume as my starting point; the perversity of a corporation owning a shape – not just the design of the object – and also the fact that the volume is actually separate from the box. They’re owned independently from one another. Furthermore, I was interested in how art objects acquire meaning through their context and through travel, what Buren called, something like, “the unbearable compromise of the portable work of art”. So, I wanted to make a work that was specifically organized around its traffic, becoming materially manifest through its movement from one place to another.” (Source: Interview by Mikkel Carl )


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