… von Rydingsvard’s is a “wild” practice that challenges and disarms a pervasive orthodoxy …
This is from Ursula von Rydingsvard: Working by Patricia C. Phillips (2011):
… Von Rydingsvard entered and was carried along in the current of the fast-moving stream of late-twentieth-century art theory and practice, but early in her career she made a momentous choice (if she did not recognize this at the time) that began to form her own “wild” practice. Von Rydingsvard began to pursue a different direction in the late 1970s that required her to unlearn and reeducate — to, in some respects, also become self-taught and richly and diversely learned.
[line break added] “Wild” requires a capacity to remake and adjust in order to generally get something right. Arguably, von Rydingsvard is one of a small group of artists in the late twentieth-century whose “wild” assault on convention and protean curiosity for formal, conceptual, and material experimentation has changed the way we think about art.
… Her emerging work was a perceptive acknowledgement, and quiet refusal of prevailing conditions. She embraced the heroic labor of making, yet avoided the reification of the artist’s work as a motivating concept.
… The modularity and implied seriality of cedar beams is a preemptive condition and point of departure for the artist. In an activity of reverse engineering, von Rydingsvard erodes and almost undoes the overdetermined conformity of the material in a vehement consumptive, yet controlled choreography of cuts and jabs, slices, and splices, often leaving just enough material authority intact to accommodate the structural imperatives of the enormous work.
[line break added] For all of its predictability and distinguishing repetitions, von Rydingsvard’s is a “wild” practice that challenges and disarms a pervasive orthodoxy and instrumentality in the material in order to infuse new ideas and aesthetic interests.
… The artist uses daunting quantities of cedar and subjects the warm, pliable materials to shockingly aggressive, yet exacting procedures. The work is self-contained, yet also invokes experiences of intensity and extremity. The muted evidence of extremity is not driven by crisis or wretchedness but by, as poet and author Carolyne Forche suggests, a desire “to understand the impress of extremity upon the poetic imagination.” Work itself is a form of resistance.
There are other paradoxes that, if insistent, are more benign. The work has features of the hands and mind of an enterprising vernacular builder, as well as a highly sophisticated contemporary artist. The character of some of the work is simultaneously indigenous and ulterior. It requires contradictory processes of labor that are destructive and constructive, fracturing and mending, decomposed and recomposed. Work that has been almost brutishly assembled is caressed throughout the process of its making.
Von Rydingsvard’s work has the scale, duration, and constitution of a prose poem that orchestrates elaborate yet enigmatic narrative dimensions with an elegant economy of strikingly succinct materials and grammar.