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un pas - deu passos, 1972

one step - ten steps, 1972
Object, 31 targetes 10.5 x 13.5 cm c/u

Since the Fluxus movement enters Amsterdam's art scene at the beginning of the 60s, brouwn connects with conceptual art, carrying out performances that deal with the act of walking and that include interviews with passers-by, as well as various ways of measuring his environment, be it while travelling or on more domestic walks. Throughout his artistic career, the great precision and coherence of his work have made him one of the most relevant Dutch artists. In recent years, his interests have led him to work within other media, such as installations, artist's books and architectural maquettes.

The covering of distances, the movement from A to B, is one of the most essential human daily activities and it is around this fact that brouwn has centred his output. brouwn uses his own subjective measurement units (the "sb-foot", the "sb-ell" and the "sb-step") and sets these against the universally adopted metric system or other —often obsolete— locally used units of measure. At first brouwn noted these distances in sections of line on paper, or in text and figures on filing cards kept in card index boxes or in folders. Since the early 80s he has also used aluminium sheets and strips as well as wooden or metal volumes. He regards these two and three dimensional forms as measuring instruments. by using these units of measure he among others portrays people, buildings, spaces, walls, and floors.

In brouwn's work, form and material are dependent on concept but the forms are always modest. In the series this way brouwn, the artist asks passers-by the way from A to B; some notes on a piece of paper contain the instructions. Sometimes the directions are only verbal and the paper remains blank. brouwn later stamps "this way brouwn" on the sheets of paper. Other works from that same period are the works of footsteps on paper. While walking, brouwn lets sheets of paper flutter down onto the pavement and the street. The sheets of paper marked with the tracks of passers-by en route from A to B are later collected again.
brouwn does not publish any photographs of his work or any biographical or bibliographical details. He does not agree to interviews. Such information detracts from the work itself —"it is deadwood", argues brouwn, "the work itself provides the interviews, writes the biography." brouwn has maintained this attitude since the beginning and for him it constitutes a part of his work "…it is material", he says.

Some of the artist's sayings:

"In my work I never speak about drawing or sculpture."

"Each millimetre, metre and distance has its own identity."

"Visual presentation is material in itself."

"Never before have distances been so meaningless as nowadays. Increasingly more people fly long distance several times a year. The validity of the concept of distance is becoming still further eroded. In my work distances are revitalised. They regain meaning."

"A distance is direction-oriented, an imaginary distance can be direction-less."

"Publications are lasting exhibitions."

Technical details

Original title:
un pas - deu passos
Registration number:
brouwn, stanley
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
Object type:
one step – ten steps (3x)
31 targetes 10.5 x 13.5 cm c/u (height x width)
macba collection. macba foundation. work purchased thanks to abertis foundation
© stanley brouwn
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