The New Museums new exhibition looks too much like its own gift shop.
The New Museums “Here and Elsewhere” exhibit looks too much like its own gift shop. According to its curatorial statement the exhibition intends to reference the collaborative film “Ici et Ailleurs” by Godard, Gorin and Mievelle. That film had a dwelling, meditative and critical relationship with its imagery that is absent from the New Museum exhibition.
The New Museum surely understands that there are codes of display for veneration and contemplative modes of presentation, It should know that grids, televisions and Ikea style shelves are not among them. The postmodernist warehouse is not conducive to the appreciation of emotionally charged material or conversation and it has a way of quarantining political speech that lives on the street
Many artists here are presenting more than 16, 40 or 100 works at a time that nearly overlap each other and often compete in the presence of projected videos with sound, the videos themselves are close enough together that their audio tracks overlap. Photographs placed within the darkened spaces of projections require flashlights. The entire experience (5 floors of it) becomes overwhelming and incomprehensible. Even my camera had difficulty focusing and most of its photos from the exhibition are blurred as if I were running through it. Americans as an audience are already over saturated with de-contextualized, excitable images of the middle east, this exhibition does not depart from that experience. Parts of it eerily demand the disaffected spectatorship, that the exhibitions premise claims to be dismantling.
“Ici et Ailleurs” questions and confronts our witness of foreign spectacle, “Here and There” merely replicates the relationship. The Arab states are on display as a cacophony, indiscriminate violence and democracy are woven together as if one and the same. Catastrophe seems to be aerial and intractable. Voices are indistinguishable from environment and not given the time and space to speak clearly, be understood or responded to. I had to struggle to watch Mounira Al Solh’s video “Now Eat My Script” the works’ eerie sound-scape was constantly interrupted by more amplified sound from two rooms over, the projection was arranged as such that other guests had to walk between me and it in order to proceed through the exhibition.
That middle-eastern art, if not life, has been suppressed is certain, and yet I don’t think that a clearing house style catch-all survey is a respectable redress or a successful one. Any possibility for the rise of new aesthetics has been squelched by squeezing the works into the New Museums typical style. These works have lost their battle with the architecture and cannot hope to survive a second engagement with their viewer. Are we excited about Arab art as an influx of new ideas, perspectives and aesthetics or as the opening of a new market? I must ask what form of speculation this exhibition is taking on, its gallery looks like its gift shop . -Brendan
Reading an Image
I often think about the rate at which we read an image. I look for entryways and exits when confronted by paintings or images. Some are hard to navigate and require effort on my part to find, or even create, those passages, even if on a purely visual level. Others present themselves in more immediate and even obvious ways.
The Betty Cunningham Gallery in the Lower East Side featured new work by Stanley Lewis, a prolific landscape painter. His drawings and paintings are, on some level, an exercise in picture consumption, via an embracing of too much information. As he accrues visual information onto his canvas, the paintings become thick and loaded with an amazing complexity of spatial relationships, especially as forms constantly re-negotiate their positions with each other on the canvas to make room for more.
A group show at Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, titled ‘Leaves’ and featuring Peter Acheson, Chuck Bowdish, Mequitta , Katherine Bradford, Dawn Clements, Jacob El Hanani, Gregory Gillespie, June Leaf, Sangram Majumdar and Fulvio Testa prompted similar questions about the construction of an image based on the speed at which it is read. A prime example is the full wall installation of Majumdar’s working drawings and paintings, right across from a large Dawn Clements sumi ink piece. While Majumdar was interested in breaking down an image to its most immediate visual components, Celements was interested in increasing the size of the drawing, while keeping the original scale of the image, to really slow down and throw off a quick and easy read of her drawing.
Some of these ideas really hit home at Mike Cloud’s show at Thomas Erben Gallery in Chelsea. One piece in particular, “Removed Individual” (10 x 20 ft), threw me off completely in this regard. The structure of the painting consisted of two 6-pointed stars joined together by a triangle in the middle. Almost every point of the two stars featured text saying “start” and “end”. the text functioned almost as an instruction manual, or a board game set-up, where I was being led into the image by a very specific and pre-meditated pathway. But it also felt like I was being tricked into a situation where each end was also a starting point in itself, creating an endless possibility for multiple narratives or reads. I became aware of how I was processing the image, and started to look for a fresh way to approach those paintings. Through Cloud’s appropriation and re-examinaion of cultural histories and events, “we are forced to reevaluate the familiar, while being refused any easy explanations.” It only makes sense that paintings about pushing the limits of ownership, political correctness, and re-presentation, are also pushing the formal limits of a painting, not least through their bizarre and erratic canvas shapes as well.
- Fiza Khatri
Marcel Dzama - Une Danse des Bouffons (A Jester’s Dance)
As soon as I walked into the Marcel Dzama show at David Zwirner I knew that it was a space I wanted to spend a lot time. Which shouldn’t be surprising — I had heard the Zwirner galler was “not to be missed” but there were so many galleries I went into and knew that I would be breezing through. The colorful ink and watercolor illustrations, hung salon style on the wall facing the door, drew me in right away. The drawings depict bizarre characters in scenes from an unfamiliar circus. Around the rest of the room were these characters but in 3D — the same style of characters but placed in small dioramas — characters that were all at the same time beautifully drawn, amusing and frightening.
I didn’t understand the depth of the narrative until I moved to the room with the televisions all playing the same scene — dancers dressed in black and white full body jumpsuits, doing a choreographed dance to a steady but sparse drum beat. I couldn’t stop watching — both the way the TVs were organized and the movement the dancers kept repeating were captivating.
I tore myself away eventually and went to the largest room, where a melodrama unfolded on a giant screen. Creepy music played while the actors did various creepy things — a game of chess materialized in a fashion that could perhaps be described as a Lynchian-nightmare. I didn’t stay for the whole film. I was anxious to do another loop of the gallery to put all the pieces together.
In doing so, I completely fell into this world that Dzama crafted. Vivid characters who, as you go from room to room, come alive out of his illustrations into dance and sensationalized movement. After I read a bit about the show, it all became clear, I suppose, as to what the actual narrative was — the ill-fated romance between Marcel Duchamp and Maria Martins. That aside, I had what I will call a rare art viewing experience — where the images, video and performance aspects all come together in a fluid, natural way. It also allowed me to invent my own narrative about what I was experiencing. I had no idea it was about Duchamp and his lover, but it was clear that the world I was entering was one where there was tension between fact and fiction, love and death, the absurd and the fantastic, etc. It was inspiring to see someone be able to bring video, sound, sculpture, and simple illustration together in such an effective, magical way.
(I tried to upload videos of the dancing, but it didn’t work ): )
Players in a Narrative
Recently I have been focusing a lot of thought into the idea of art objects that are players within a larger narrative. With that thought in the back of my mind I walked into the current show at David Zwirner, Une Danse des Bouffons (A Jester’s Dance), by Marcel Dzama.
The show consisted of several watercolors, sculptures, and videos. Each individual object was interesting, but perhaps what was even more interesting was what happened when I started to think of the works as a whole. All of the sudden there began to be a reverberation between the pieces. The video pieces made me feel as if I was inside one of the watercolors, which were being displayed on the other side of the curtains. The further I moved through the exhibition the stronger the connections became. The water colors influenced the cut paper pieces that they were next to. Right near some of the cut paper pieces were porcelain sculptures. The connection from watercolors to porcelain sculptures seems rather far, but because of the cut paper pieces in-between them the distance seemed to shrink.
Often times I am disappointed when I see a large grouping of a single artists work because I tend to pick favorite pieces out of the show, while the rest of the work becomes secondary. At Une Danse des Bouffons I found it impossible to pick a favorite piece out of the show, the larger narrative that was created with the work as a group was way more interesting than any one piece.
Greg Parma Smith
The two groups of paintings in Greg Parma Smith’s “Melancholy,” on view September 2 - October 5 2014, present the viewer with a sequence of contradictions—existential dead ends on top of, or behind, playful beginnings. Smith has installed six works in the first room of the exhibition. Each of these paintings recall aesthetic cues associated with Smith’s previous work: paper clips offer the illusion of control over disparate layers of decorative “paper.” Far-ranging image cultures are ardently depicted on the various layers of the canvases. Smith’s persistent representation of “exotic” cultural symbols and mimetic patterns contributes to the overall chaos of these paintings. Importantly for Smith, and potentially ironic, with these new paintings first there is quiet.
Janus god of doors:
Good taste/bad taste
Elsewhere in the exhibition, Smith has taken on a different modus operandi of presentation; the paintings in the second, more spacious room of the gallery are hung salon-style, ranging from intimate to medium in scale. Canvas has been stapled to a support, and folded back on itself to reveal its raw materiality in microcosm. Gold leaf claims ownership of one corner of the rectangular canvases, while butterflies seem to float on top of the other information, almost onto the surrounding wall. Each wing of the many butterflies has been painted to reveal a symmetrical face. All of this and more makes Smith’s new paintings undeniably cerebral and covertly subtle, which is oddly satisfying.
In the Fergus McCaffrey gallery in Chelsea there is a large-scale exhibition of works by Richard Nonas. I am very interested in wooden 3-Dimensional art work. I think his wooden art work is between 2-dimensions and 3 dimensions like sculpture. I like the natural color of his wooden work.
Richard Nonas is a Post-Minimalist artist and he lives and works in New York. His anthropological work affects his sculptural practice. He uses materials that exist between nature and culture, wood, steel, and stone in his sculptural arrangement. The key to his work is the difference between what the materials convey and how the viewer reacts to them.
I saw Nick Cave’s exhibition and I felt the material of his art work was unique and exotic. I liked the art work called ”King of the Hill” and “Golden boy”. I am interested in the blanket of his art work and the symbols of repeating patterns. Nick’s work is related with Racism, especially towards Black Americans. Racism has been a hot issue in society today. He wants to preserve the rights of Black Americans.
In addition, Jeff Koons’ s exhibition is at the Whitney museum. I think that he is the most influential and popular artist today. There is one department store shopping bag that is written “Jeff Koons loves Shinsaegye” in Seoul, Korea. There was a long line to see his exhibition in front of the Whitney Museum. He used ready -made as his art work’s material, as well as practiced in the area between advanced art and mass culture. He chose industrial things. His art work’s color is artificial color rather than natural color because of the ready- made material. Ready-made was reconstructed in his works. These are iconic and significant in a chronological narrative . Viewers can think that his work is very familiar and easy. His works created joy for people. I think that he broke the limit of art work’s material.
this source helped me write this blog post
not THAT nick cave
The perennial hypothetical question, the “what if,” that arises when one encounters a work of extreme racial complexity, was, thanks to my ignorance, not a hypothetical at all, but rather the framework through which I viewed and digested (at least initially) Nick Cave’s Made by Whites For Whites. I suppose I interpreted the show’s title a bit literally.And so the question, to my embarrassment, became: What if you think the racially charged work of a black artist was actually done by a white artist?
The answer, of course (and I think this may end up happening to more people than was perhaps expected) is more questions. Why would the incorporation of racist memorabilia by a white artist be more problematic? Why would we have a problem with a white artist making an attempt to “rehabilitate the problematic, loaded object” when racism is a horrifying reality for all involved. And to paraphrase a friend, how is a show like Cave’s (white or black) any different from the fetishization that produced the racist memorabilia in the first place?
Certainly, most of us (now) know that this was not the work of Nick of the Bad Seeds, and perhaps it never could have been. And the gallery contained some works that, at the hand of a white artist, seemed almost impossibly loaded, impossibly volatile. But most of it, given the history of the presumed artist, was, however complicated, surprisingly plausible. Given that the white Cave hails from Australia, “Sea Sick,” a piece comprised of a spittoon and a collection of nautical oil paintings, takes on with startling power the history of colonialism and the racism inherent within it. To me, the idea of such a work being produced by a white artist was, though troubling, not entirely impossible.
But what of the beauty? This show was undeniably beautiful and executed with such precision with respect to the gallery space that the entire collection, every item, could stop the viewer dead in his/her tracks. How does this aspect change, given the presumed race of the artist? This is perhaps most difficult to wrap my head around, and I certainly have no definitive answer to the question. In his review of Jenny Holzer’s “Dust Paintings” Thomas Micchelli asks, “is an exhibition ever too beautiful for its own good”? Applying this question to the Nick Cave exhibition, taking into account the hypothetical racial scenario, is quite bizarre because, at least to me, that threshold is so very different. Thinking that the work was done by Nick Cave (of the Bad Seeds) the answer was yes. Yes, the exhibition was too beautiful for its own good because it seemed to refetishize the racist memorabilia that the artwork was supposedly attempting to rehabilitate. But for Nick Cave (the visual artist) to produce items of such beauty seemed to signal a sort of resilience extending beyond the original objects and their appropriation. The aesthetic precision had to be there, the work is beautiful because it needs to be.
This, of course, is only a representation of what happened in my own mind, in my own misunderstanding, my own state of confusion. But it points to a conversation that I would imagine (I would hope) a number of people will be having in New York over the next month or so. I doubt that my experience, my confusion, is really such an anomaly. Or maybe I just want to doubt it. But in a way the confusion added another layer of complexity and power to “Made by Whites For Whites.” An interesting concept: What happens when the hypothetical becomes (seemingly) actual?
I visited the Cheim and Read Gallery to see the works of Jenny Holzer. I have loved her since I first came across Inflammatory Essays and I wouldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t see at least some of her work in person.
Dust Paintings told the behind-the-scenes stories of the 9-11 tragedy and the stories of people that were wrongfully held in custody because of whichever relation they could’ve had with the ‘enemy’. I won’t go deep into this topic because as a non-American, or middle eastern to be honest, it’s not my place.
I also visited the Pace Gallery, that held the works of Fred Wilson. This, as an angolan/african young woman, I can certainly talk about.
My first thoughts were certainly, wow.
My country’s flag was included maybe 4 times in this exhibition and I felt every emotion possible. From happiness, joy, to nostalgia and homesickness.
These were works I could identify, works about my culture! These could not only spark my interest but even help me create my own works in the future regarding my culture/my nation.
This exhibition was all about the African Diaspora and nations that are a part of it, and what was most interesting to me, was that the artist, Fred Wilson, included the descriptions of these now independent countries.
That was the first time I had ever read the description of my flag in the United States and it felt amazing.
Growing up, my father made sure my brother and I knew exactly why our flag was the way it was, so this was a review of what I already knew. But it was so good to see it in front of me.
However, this entire exhibition spoke so much, and it wasn’t just to have me feel good about seeing home in this foreign country.
It was about the history of the African Diaspora and the creation of the Diaspora. From slavery to current times. Certainly, Africa had its history before colonialism, but the start of the Diaspora, the disperse of black bodies, was a result of colonialism and slavery.
This was about a man who was taken as a slave and committed suicide at the age of 23.
Fred Wilson placed history in front of the public’s face and left it up to interpretation. If people wanted to know more about the work then they’d have to read about it, find papers, look for answers.
There was also black glass work, that I interpreted as a mirror of the black self. Often times people refuse to see their bodies, especially People of Color with dark bodies, as what they are. And we must be accepting of our own bodies. To see a black reflection isn’t disgusting, it isn’t wrong (the beautiful glass work could strengthen that argument). It was right and it was beautiful.
Thank you Fred Wilson.
Lastly, I’d like to add that I had a lovely conversation with the gallery security man. He was afro latino and from the Dominican Republic and it was the best conversation I’d had all weekend.
Me: Is it okay, I mean, you’ve been working here, if I ask what your perspective is on this artist’s work?
Him: You’d think I were insane.
And those words made me love our conversation from the very start.
He had a theory that the Dominican Republic wasn’t included as a part of the African Diaspora because of the self hate afro latinos have in the nation. Spanish and Spaniards are of a high praise but if there’s any relation to Africa, then the people are mistreated and mistreat themselves.
I think it was an incredible theory and I wish to have more conversations the next time we go to NYC.
A POEM TO STILLNESS AND MOVEMENT
(Image taken from: http://www.marianneboeskygallery.com/exhibitions/roxy-paine-denuded-lens/works/)
Reality becomes a recreational, analytical, and physical object at the Marianne Boesky Gallery with the presentation of Denuded Lens by the artist Roxy Paine.
Rather than a large piece of obscure conceptual art, Paine uses something so mundane yet forgetful and experienced only trough rushed and uncomfortable periods of time, to link the materialistic to organic; and cause not only food for critical thinking, but also as a pause to understand and observe the space around us.
His body of work is wood, and in his piece Checkpoint Paine recreates the scene of an airport security set of machines, but devoid of people. The piece is installed within a glass room that gives the work depth, and creates a perspective that can be admired by standing in any position in front of the glass. Inside the glass the security stop vibrates in a surreal transition between movement and stillness, which can be appreciated by the movement of the rolling belt where luggage and other elements can be dropped to be scanned.
(Image taken from: http://www.marianneboeskygallery.com/exhibitions/roxy-paine-denuded-lens/works/)
Amazingly the work is not a replica. Rather, it is made from maple wood and taken through processes that range from the computer modeling in Rhino and AutoCAD, to hand carving and crafting. Overall, Paine’s work is based on the transitional and conceptually things that are seen through the every day yet are not observed or experienced cautiously.
(Image taken from: http://www.marianneboeskygallery.com/exhibitions/roxy-paine-denuded-lens/works/)
His collision of organic elements with machines, serve the purpose to not only teach about time, but also to observe and express the correlations between perception of time and perception of forms.
CORPOREAL. ADJECTIVE; OF THE NATURE OF THE PHYSICAL BODY
This past weekend I had the opportunity to see the latest exhibit of work by Ryan McGinley at Team (gallery, inc.) located on Grand St. in Soho.
YEARBOOK, which opened on September 7th, is a brilliantly colored mosaic of youthful sexuality and emotion.
In this installation, the gallery walls and ceiling are completely covered in images of young men and women photographed nude (or perhaps naked is the better word), in front of brightly colored backgrounds.
The images, printed on vinyl overlap each other in a scrapbook style that I found to be fun, overwhelming, and charming at the same time.
One could easily spend a long time soaking in this show (and getting a sore neck in the process). It only just occurred to me that I should have viewed this show lying down on the floor, staring at what is termed by his gallery as a “constellation of people”.
The show worked visually as a whole, and equally well as individual images. I delighted in how each one of the subjects reacts to, and is portrayed by, the artist.
These men and women are sexy, but not sexual. There is an honesty to the images that I really enjoyed.
I was also struck by something else I saw in these images; a certain vulnerability to these young people, exacerbated by the garish and sickly colored fluorescent lighting in the gallery, which left me feeling awash in a bit of melancholy.
The gallery’s write-up online about this show uses phrases such as “slick poster-style” and “Pop Art quality” to describe the show; as well as a few overly pretentious lines that could easily result in extreme eyeball rolling moments for the viewing public. However some of their words and phrases helped to solidify the more melancholy feeling I was also experiencing; “temporal tension”, “the artist’s ability to make the fleeting permanent”, “seemingly limitless bodies”.
This led me to think of nude images of young people created by Bruce Weber. Perfect, timeless, Aryan specimens with flawless skin, treated in such a way as to lead the viewer to think that youth is forever, and that beauty is controlled and follows one definition.
I’d rather spend my day laying on the cold cement floor of a gallery, taking in the beauty of Mr. McGinley’s images.