The Wonderbox 2010-11: the aesthetics of failure


The Wonderbox is a 5000-sq ft production studio designed for art collaborations. Its organizing principles state that “the process of making art will always be more important than the profits associated with making art.”

The Box began operation in May 2010 as a place where creative projects could be pursued without becoming treated as assets or collectibles. There are a number of collectives worldwide that try to keep the price tags off of the art or crafts they produce, and the Box is tentatively joining these groups as a place where collaborative artworks can be produced without worry about the values of the works themselves.

The actual title of the “Wonderbox” was influenced by Philip K. Fisher’s book “Wonder, The Rainbow & the Aesthetics of Rare Experiences,” in which he argues that singular events – natural or cultural – cause a deep sense of beauty or arousal of imagination to occur when the core of the event – a rainbow, for instance, or a piece of art – is not mundane. A rainbow, for instance, no matter how many times one sees it, can still invoke a sense of profound beauty. Works of art potentially can move the viewer to the same sense of wonder; but to do this the artwork must be as mysterious and as evanescent as a rainbow. The Wonderbox was seen from its inception as a place where the workings or art would be of far greater consequence than the display of finished pieces; it might be the fountain of many rainbows. The Box is more factory than it is gallery, and even when functioning as a gallery should still be shown to be or treated as being a manufactory.

. . . the process of making art will always be more important than the profits of making art . . .
— entire Wonderbox manifesto, May 2010