Text by MUSE Team

Outdoor Furniture is the new book published by Art Paper Editions dedicated to Pippa Garner’s photographic practice, which for fifty years has questioned the limits of socially acceptable codes and languages.

Pippa Garner has always opposed the systems of consumerism, marketing, and waste through a rich body of work that includes drawings, performances, sculptures, videos, and installations over the course of four decades of her career. Her uncompromising approach to life and artistic practice has allowed her to interact with the world of illustration, publishing, television, and art without ever being completely absorbed by it. Garner began her activity in the Sixties, when she was studying as a member of the Transportation Design department at the Art Center in California, with the goal of becoming a car designer: it was the era of Muscle Cars, and automobiles exceeded the limits of the absurd. Vehicles were designed to appeal to the most basic desires – sex and security – and, for this reason, they were exaggerated in weight and size. Born in Chicago, Illinois, Garner now lives and works in Long Beach, California.

Pippa Garner, Outdoor Furniture. ALL IMAGES FROM THE BOOK.

“I’m fascinated with odd forms of human mobility. I was thinking of the sedan chair, which was used in London through the late nineteenth century. Apparently, the streets of London were so filthy that the wealthy would hire someone to carry them through the street”.

– Pippa Garner

The beginning of Garner’s public practice can be traced back to the period when she served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and the years that followed. Enlisted while working on the assembly line of an automobile factory, Garner was transported to Vietnam in 1966 with the rank of private: she was assigned to the 25th Infantry, the only division with a Combat Art Team (CAT). Learning about this program – which tasked military and civilian artists with documenting the war through sketches, illustrations, and paintings to be collected by the U.S. Army – Garner negotiated a position in the group, and this allowed her to spend time practicing a new form of art: photography. Using Japanese cameras purchased in Saigon, Garner began to take photographs.

These images reveal the obsession with those subjects that will occupy Garner’s interest for the rest of her life: transportation vehicles, architecture and urban design, spontaneous street scenes, bizarre road signs, satirical and sensual self-portraits, androgynous fashion, and pets.

Her photographic practice, which has only recently received renewed visibility and institutional attention, presents a vast archive of thousands of images largely yet to be discovered. Her work, consisting of personal documentation spanning fifty years, also includes street photography shots from the late Seventies and early Eighties, captured during the artist’s daily explorations of Los Angeles. Outdoor Furniture, one of three publications curated by Art Paper Editions dedicated to Pippa Garner, collects a series of photographs of sofas and furniture abandoned on the streets of the city of angels.

“I’m an introverted exhibitionist. Artists are generally introverted, because it’s an observer’s vantage point, so you can’t fully assimilate into culture”.

– Pippa Garner


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