Postal services aren’t particularly known for their conscientiousness when it comes to taking care of packages. Have you ever had a package destroyed in the post? It sucks. But in the case of Walead Beshty’s glass sculptural series, FedEx works, it’s actually kind of beautiful.
LA-based artist Walead Beshty is allowing his Fedex packages to be destroyed on purpose in the name of art and revenge.
In his interesting Fedex series, which spanned different terms between 2005 and 2014, the LA-based Beshty packaged glass vitrines in FedEx boxes and shipped them across America to various exhibitions and galleries.
An everyday mail service like Fedex might seem like a strange choice of courier for something as fragile and precious as an art series – especially one made from glass. Breakages from rough handling would be almost certain. But for Beshty, this is entirely his intention.
“I was interested in how art objects acquire meaning through their context and through travel,” Beshty said in an interview in 2011. “What Buren called, something like, ‘the unbearable compromise of the portable work of art’. So, I wanted to make a work that was specifically organised around its traffic, becoming materially manifest through its movement from one place to another.”
In part, the series seems like an acts of revenge, whereby Beshty’s entire artistic process was founded on the infallible certainty that the laminate glass would be destroyed in some respect. If they objects came out the other side unharmed, the piece does not exist.
Not only is Beshty interested in how a journey can shape and object, he also explores the notion of how a corporation like Fedex can ‘own’ an empty shape:
“The FedEx works […] initially interested me because they’re defined by a corporate entity in legal terms,” he said in the same interview. “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.”
Have a look at the series below.
The series also featured in the 2008 Biennial – you can see him talking about the project below:
[via This Is Colossal]