Daniel Turner (b. 1983 Portsmouth, Virginia) is an artist living and working in New York, operating in the realms of contemporary sculpture and installation. This interview arrives in light of his upcoming solo show at König Galerie's St Agnes Nave titled Particle Processed Cafeteria, opening September 9th.
You’ve been in New York for a while. Besides being an undeniable beacon for art and culture, what was your reason for moving here?
Its New York, I mean at some point you don’t have a choice.
Your studio is situated in Greenpoint which is a prominent area for industrial businesses. Does this environment motivate you in any way?
Whats motivating about being situated here is the amount I can get away with.
We’ve worked on a handful of projects together over the past year and a half (Marjorie, Marjorie - Special Edition, 110/120). What have you been up to this summer?
Reducing a cafeteria into a liquid.
This is your third show with König, correct?
How long would you say that you have been meditating on this work?
I've been thinking about this sculpture for about 6 years.
What was the catalyst? Were you actively seeking this cafeteria or did the object inspire the work?
The kitchen has been an interest of mine for sometime, one thing just led to another. ..
Just for the sake of clarification, can you describe what exactly the cafeteria contain(ed)? Where did it come from?
The cafeteria was salvaged from southeast Virginia which housed an array of public and civic functions.
(36) steel folding chairs
(3) 12ft collapsible steel/wooden tables
The concept of source seems to serve as a significant component of your work. Do you think that the source of material in artworks serves as the foundational support for the emotional dynamic of the piece?
In my own work yes absolutely, all materials carry emotional, geographical, political or sociological weight.
The production of Particle Processed Cafeteria pushed both physical and mental boundaries to the limit. Is this work the most demanding (physically, emotionally, mentally) piece you have ever produced?
It's too early to say if this has been the most mentally or emotionally taxing piece I've ever made. Those things take time. I can’t really reflect or compare those aspects when working. Most everything I make combines those elements in equal measure.
Do you think that the significance of this work shifted along the way due to the production of the piece?
No, the production was always a significant element of the work. For me, significance is not imparted on how much time or physical energy is put into a individual work.
So, regardless of time spent on production, as long as the end result is achieved, the time spent getting there is irrelevant?
The process is excruciatingly intense, physically speaking. Do you believe that physical endurance heightens the concept of destruction within the work?
Again, the amount of physical energy put into a sculpture or drawing makes no difference to me. The cafeteria was reduced by hand before being further chemically processed, because of that, its contents were imbued with a particular physicality, which only could arrive through the nature of the process which the material was subjected to.
The final part of Particle Processed Cafeteria involves you spraying the dissolved cafeteria onto the gallery floor, which, in a way is very ceremonial. Would you say that this action signifies the completion of the work?
Once the cafeteria has been sprayed the particles will begin the final process of molecular atrophy completing the entire evolution of the sculpture.
How much science is involved in the chemical process of dissolving?
The science behind chemical dissolution is fairly complex, luckily my needs are general.
Where did the interest in chemistry come from?
Simply through experimentation.
What is your process when deeming a work complete? Is it visual, physical, or does your work more appropriately fit a cyclical process of continuous development?
It’s intuitive. If anything, a series of problems have to be resolved or a set of particulars have to arrive with clarity.
You are highly considerate of space. Would you say you were waiting on the appropriate arena to produce this piece, or would the piece adapt itself to any space?
The nature of this sculpture demands an unobstructed expanse of linear concrete. I think the piece would actually work in a variety of settings, yet subconsciously I knew the sculpture needed the appropriate footprint which St Agnes offered- a opportunity which I'm extremely grateful for.
Was the result a kind of visceral reaction to the environment?
The result is a respect for the materials. Overall that is often my general approach to work.
You used to be a painter, and have a piece called Burning an Entire Body of Work, where you literally burned all of your paintings. With Particle Processed Cafeteria and other stain works, visually & productively speaking, would you consider this to be an evolution of your painting?
I consider it a evolution of my own sculpture, a synthesis of accumulative decompositions.
Conversation with Daniel Turner, NYC, August 2016. Photography by Études Studio, Interview by Grant Schofield