Commonwealth and Council

...with Observations on their Habits

Margaret Honda


Commonwealth & Council presents a new work by Margaret Honda. "…With Observations on their Habits" will be Honda’s first one-person exhibition in Los Angeles since 2002.

The title of the show, "…With Observations on their Habits" comes from the title of the book by Charles Darwin, The Formation of Vegetable Mould, Through the Action of Worms, With Observations on Their Habits, published in 1861. Honda’s interest in this volume is twofold: she is fascinated by worms and has for many years kept a compost pile to raise them; and she regards Darwin’s working method as a model for talking about what she does in her own studio practice. For decades Darwin performed simple experiments in his laboratory at Down House, and also observed how over time the landscape around him regenerated itself, in the process transforming itself. And more specifically, Honda is interested in how worms, the subject of Darwin’s inquiry, continually reconstitute matter, making a new and generative substance out of something that was once generative itself.

"…With Observations on their Habits" consists of a single work that is a room-sized sculpture. The work is a response to the space at Commonwealth & Council, which is of limited size and has two large windows on either of two walls. The specific conditions of the room led Honda to investigate in concrete terms the relation between a work and the space in which it is presented. For Honda this relation is reciprocal: the form of the work and the form of the room engage each other.

There are five discrete elements to the sculpture, each a transformation of an earlier work. The elements transform that work in various ways: dismantling, melting down, reorganizing, augmenting. As a result of these processes, the sculptures that are the origins of the elements cannot be reconstituted as they once were. Honda’s aim is to erase the prior forms of the sculptures, treating them as raw materials. Sculptures become pedestals, photos become pedestals, waste materials become sculptures. Honda has transformed the material once, and can transform it again. Hers is an open-ended process that in its present manifestation implies both its past and a future to come.

Margaret Honda has exhibited her work at CA2M, Madrid as part of Picnic Sessions; the Drawing Center, New York; Estacion Tijuana, Mexico; Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and as part of the Resonance Open, broadcast from Raven Row, London. She has received an Anonymous Was A Woman Fellowship and a City of Los Angeles Artist’s Fellowship. Honda lives and works in Los Angeles.