Interview with Graham Caldwell and his installation in Kyiv

This is an interview and art installation video of Graham Caldwell and his piece at the new U.S. embassy in Kyiv.

Full Transcript

0:01 Graham Caldwell: The other night I had this movie, this Japanese movie- Yakuza movie that
0:04 I watched the night before last year, that night that I didn’t sleep. And everybody kept-
0:09 all these Yakuza guys kept doing something wrong and to apologize, they would cut off
0:13 their finger over and over. They just kept cutting off their finger. Three different
0:18 people cut off their finger in that movie. It was so weird. And just the tip. Yeah.
0:25 [music]
0:37 I’m Graham Caldwell. I am a contemporary artist who works primarily in glass. Sort of a constant
0:47 material I keep using and coming back to.
0:50 [music]
0:54 These forms are- in the studio where they’re
0:58 being made, they’re sort of an embodiment of gravity. But when they are installed, they’re
1:03 going to burst in different directions, so it’s going to be- it’s going to feel more
1:06 like sort of an explosive velocity than gravity.
1:13 [music]
1:17 This piece is a- it’s going to be a networked volume, like a three-dimensional drawing,
1:24 that sort of tensely lined sort of three-dimensional volume where there are nodes throughout. And
1:31 the space that it’s going to be mounted in, or on is huge. It’s a thirty-foot ceiling,
1:38 so it’ll have this luxurious sense of air kind of moving through all of the interstices
1:53 of the piece.
2:00 [music]
2:28 Kyiv is a very, sort of, built place. It’s a very industrial sort of landscape and society,
2:39 so I’m sort of profoundly interested in that- in this particular piece, and in my work more
2:44 broadly. I’m interested in very much the intersection of kind of mechanical, man-made, very artificial
2:52 things and processes and natural ones.
2:57 [music]
3:10 Have you ever welded something like this before?
3:18 One million times. One million times.
3:20 [Laughter] There are rules. There is a system. There
3:23 is structure that is very mechanical and organized and relies on very straightforward hardware
3:30 attachments. And then it spreads organically, as if it was a living thing, made of nuts
3:38 and bolts. That is very much the structure of this piece.
3:45 [music]
4:10 In Ukrainian craft, there’s this really intricate lacework and embroidery that I think is just
4:17 magnificent. In my work, and in this piece, there’s a similar kind of intense complex
4:28 repetition that I think is- I like looking at that.
4:42 Ambassador John Tefft: And I really care about this because it’s- I mean, we have the opportunity
4:45 here to show American artists, but also Ukrainian artists. This is one of the best parts of
4:53 the new Embassy building. When they told me you were going to come and do this, I thought,
4:57 “Excellent. This is exactly what we need.”
5:00 [music]
5:05 We’re standing in the atrium of our brand-new embassy, which we hope will be opening within
5:10 a couple of months.
5:11 [music]
5:47 When we get art from local artists- or in the case of this exhibition, several artists
5:52 whose roots are in Ukraine who have moved on to great fame in the United States, we
5:56 see- we build a tie, a bond to the people in the society.
6:01 [music]
6:01 Off camera: This is beautiful! This is great!
6:18 Off camera: This is beautiful! This is great!
6:22 Graham Caldwell: Thanks man.