Thursday, March 11, 2010
The sculptural aspect of this installation is proof of the performance. In her private little room at the biennial, the structure subjected to her blows stands as a column, and a peek inside reveals the debris and destruction that correspond with the video. This aspect is auxiliary, though, and weak as an art object by itself. Rather, it's like a used movie set and operates as reference for material, scale, and object-specificity — certainly not integral to putting the work across.
Standing Here follows suit with most of her previous work. The format being: she gives herself a physically challenging task, wears brightly colored clothes not suited for manual labor, sets up a camera, and sees it through. They are conceptually guided performances with masochistic and feminist tones, and a straightforward presentation. Her demeanor is earnest and choices of color light hearted, which is a refreshing change from the more severe historical precedents dealing with these issues (Nauman and Abramovic, for example).
Her inclusion in the biennial, and subsequent subsidization, seems to have prompted a move from a DIY look to the more institutionalized aesthetic of seamless white, putting her actions in the 'white cube' with a sterilizing effect. This heightens awareness of technique and technology, and allows little video problems, specifically auto focus pumping and a mid-take zoom adjustment by the camera operator, to undermine the project's seriousness.
All this being said, the work is exciting to watch. There's some suspenseful expectation for her to fall, or bleed even (no question she'll get to the top). Most of all, there is a sympathetic corporeal sensation in watching and hearing the video. Her strength and tolerance for pain is felt in the gut, and the dull thud of unyielding sheet rock under the blow of her bare elbow resonates in the chest.
Puma’s travelling exhibition at Deitch combines Kehinde Wiley’s portraiture paintings with African patriotism and sports. The exhibition is a result of a project between Puma and Wiley that celebrates the 2010 World Cup and Puma’s partnership with African footballers. Wiley supplied designs for a limited edition line of Puma shoes and jerseys and four portrait paintings. The intent was to depict three of the most celebrated current football players in Africa: Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon, John Mensah of Ghana, and Emmanuel Eboué of Ivory Coast in a setting of harmonious unity.
The front room of the gallery showcases the line of Wiley-designed Puma jerseys and shoes. Wiley’s inspiration for the designs on the athletic wear was traditional African patterns. These jerseys and shoes set the stage as one walks up the steps into the main gallery and sees the central piece of the exhibition on the far wall, Unity (2010), the portrait of the three footballers clothed in the Wiley-Puma jerseys. Hung on another wall are three individual portraits of the same athletes, each wearing his own football jersey, and set against backgrounds again inspired by African art. There are also photos documenting Wiley’s process of creating the portraits and five videos on such topics as football in Africa, Puma, Wiley, and painting.
Puma chose correctly when they asked Wiley to represent the unity between the African nations and football and Puma. Wiley, a child with African-American Nigerian heritage, often reflects on his roots in his painting. Many of his subjects are African-American men that he poses in ways reminiscent of traditional European paintings (e.g. Wiley’s Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps). In this exhibition Wiley adapts his process by basing the poses of the three footballers in Unity on an eighteenth-century Nigerian statue. The two outside men place one hand palm-to-palm with the central figure and the other on his elbows. This pose reflects not only traditional African culture, but also a unity between multiple African football teams.
As a sport non-lover, I think this world-relevant exhibition can be enjoyed by all as it successfully combines art with a positive message of cooperation and peace among nations. It is this combination of football, African patriotism, and fine art which makes it an excellent example for other unity-inspired projects. What better way to convey this message than through two activities humans have participated in for thousands of years: sports and art.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
In the exhibit, the viewer sees the back wall of a room covered with newspaper and landscape paintings. Upon entering, it becomes apparent that the paintings are actually mirrors reflecting landscapes painted on panels that make up the walls of the room; which aren’t visible from the exterior. The picturesque is immediately tainted with reflections of humans obstructing the beautiful view. This is the primary message of the exhibit. Humans are unable to appreciate nature from afar and once they step ‘in it’ they ruin its beauty with their presence. As people enter the room and realize the quaint mountains are not paintings, but mirrors, they immediately disregard nature and become absorbed with their own reflection. The Room of Sublime Wallpaper is effective and makes one notice the difference between viewing nature from afar and having the need to experience and be in it.
I find it important to note that in Eastern landscape painting, humans are secondary to nature and illustrated minuscule. In Western painting, humans are the primary focus and nature is often blurred in the background and considered an accessory. Harvey’s exhibit reflects the Eastern principles of nature and The Room of Sublime Wallpaper informs viewers that it’s foolish to try to frame nature. Nature is too sublime to capture and if one attempts to frame it, he/she will fail, realizing it’s impossible to attain the picturesque.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
I though I sat through this idea once already in the Hollywood's brainchild known as "Crash." In the most self-indulgent moment of the film, the director sits dumb founded next to the recently fired actor and realizes he is not so different to himself after all. He lends him his phone to his fellow man as a gesture of communication and understanding. Really? I think not. For Fast, regarding the pain of Viewers, indeed!