Friday, September 24, 2010

Christian Marclay: Festival

In Festival at the Whitney, Christian Marclay joins image and sound to create video collage, collaborative performance, and installations. He also created music inspired collections and collages.

Most notable in this exhibition is his use of video and graffiti to prompt world renowned musicians to create new musical performances. During the exhibition, these musicians perform from musical scores collected from a giant chalkboard wall in the exhibition where the public can write, draw, or scribble on the blank musical staff lines. The resulting mini chamber-like performances are very random with a few musicians who astonishingly interpret this wall that includes a “score” of everything from musical notes to children’s scribbles. Somehow, these performers find a way to make something unique and sincere out of what would look like not much of a musical score.

A little less sincere are Marclay’s turn-table scratchings titled, “Selection of recordings: Marclay playing turn-tables”. These recordings are installed in a back room that is carpet lined, window lit, and comfortably arranged with couches. Looks inviting, sounds awful. Marclay’s rubbings on the turn-table are gritty, random, and annoying, turning away visitors before they could have time to consider the piece..the room was completely empty.

The collections of various objets with musical notes printed on them are quit charming. I felt like a quirky friend was showing me his neat collection of musical clothing, bells, tin boxes and such. Although, I would encourage this friend to stick to collecting world renowned musicians.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mine at Invisible-Exports

In the group show, Mine, several artists respond to bodily assault. Self-portrait “headshots” of the artists as they deal with bodily trauma are a means for conveying the implications of their experiences.

For Hannah Wilke, illness morphed her body from a tool—whose image she often intentionally tinkered with in her work—to a new self outwardly redefined by lymphoma treatment. Three sets of triptych photos taken at different stages of Wilke’s disease show her body transforming outside her control. For Bob Flanagan (working with Sheree Rose), the slow agony of cystic fibrosis meant a lifetime of physical suffering. Pain is wall-sized mosaic of closely cropped photos showing Flanagan’s face portraying a spectrum of pain. Pinned up with hypodermic needles and taken over a period of 11 years, they almost overwhelm the small gallery. For Jana Leo, rape resulted in a loss of self and a sensation that she was defined by the experience. In Frozen Memory, she manipulates an earlier self-portrait (titled After) to express her feeling of dissolution. She replicates the image and adds layers, giving the appearance that she is trapped beneath a sheet of ice progressively obscuring her face.

The gallery literature specifies that two definitions of the show title are significant. Referring firstly to “mine” as possession, in this case the artist’s possession of their body and subsequently its damage, and secondly to “mine” as a hidden bomb, a metaphor for the means of said damage. A third definition of “mine”—a tunnel dug to extract something of value—is applicable as well. The artists responded to suffering by cathartically transforming the experience into something of value for themselves and the viewer.

Rivan Neuenschwander:A Day Like Any Other

Rivane Neuenschwander’s A Day Like Any Other is quiet, contemplative and mesmerizing. She attempts to capture the poignancy, melancholy and repetition of human life in works that engage and interact with the viewer. The most interesting yet elusive piece, A Day Like Any Other, features flip clocks scattered randomly throughout the museum, masquerading as permanent fixtures. The clocks flip every minute, but always display 00:00. I first noticed a clock by the museum cafĂ© before I knew that it was part of Neuenschwander’s exhibit. I reacted with the puzzlement and delight that she must have intended. Another very simple yet elegant piece is Arabian Moons, a filmstrip with holes punched in it. The resulting projection resembles a flickering moon. These are the simplest pieces on display, but they characterize the sentiments she tries to convey.
Neuenschwander’s work ranges from video to paintings and installations. One unifying feature is the element of performance. She varies in scale, from the aforementioned simple pieces, to complex performances such as The Conversation in which security experts installed bugs in a room which then recorded Neuenschwander tearing the room apart, searching for them. The Conversation, though interesting, lacked finesse. It left me wondering why it was executed so artistically, but did not leave me contemplating surveillance as Neuenschwander intended. Some of her other large scale works also seemed lacking.
While I think Neuenschwander’s large scale works lack the strength of her simple pieces, she always maintains her sense of quiet inquiry. Her work captures the repetition, contemplation, rest, struggle and sometimes paranoia of simple daily life.

Off The Wall: Part One

“Off The Wall: Part One,” focuses on artists using the human body to act as a performance. The show works hard to live up to its name. Figures walk on walls, cameras are positioned in ways to disorient the viewer, and artwork lies on the floor. Beginning with Yoko Ono’s “A painting (Work) To be Stepped On” we see this thematic thread of interactive work on the ground. This continues as we encounter Carl Andre’s “Twenty-Ninth Copper Cardinal,” a series of plates on the floor. Then on to Andy Warhol’s “Dance Diagram, 5 (Fox Trot: The Right Turn Man),” which although encased in glass, might still beckon some viewers to dance. Several other themes seemed somewhat obvious, for example a wall of artist’s portraits, each theatrically dressed to alter their appearance.

Some of the most successful pieces seem to be video installations that were given the space they demanded. Dara Friedman’s video installation “Bim Bam” was enthralling. Consisting of a split screen image of the artists silhouette repeatedly slamming doors to jarring sounds that are not in sync with the visuals. This piece seemed to be complimented by Dennis Oppenheim’s “Echo” in which hands projected around the viewer sporadically slap the walls. While these succeeded, some works seem like relics of a bygone era when artists were desperately seeking radical theories and new mediums that broke from tradition and challenged people’s notions of art. I began to wonder if some of these provocative pieces/performances that have been re-created or captured through a lenses still have the intended impact in this incarnation in this time and place.

"A Day LIke Any Other" worth exploring

Currently on view at the New Museum is the mid-career retrospective “A Day Like Any Other” by Rivane Neuenschwander. The show which features some of Neuenshwander’s most well know works like I Wish Your Wish (2003) that have been recreated for this exhibition.

I Wish Your Wish (2003) originally was installed in 2003 and the participants were asked to take a ribbon with a wish and then asked to replace the ribbon with another wish that they had handwritten on paper. The new incarnation of this project features 60 wishes from the viewers of the past project. The piece echoes of fears and hopes and the viewer finds themselves asking are they both? The piece is a rainbow of dreams filled tension. Like the previous piece Neunshwander is asking for the same interaction from her viewers and to become a part of the work.

The other pieces in the show ask for similar interaction between the artist and viewer. Conversations (2010) and homage to a Francis Ford Copola film explores privacy invasion and the white noise we often ignore. The piece is a bugged exhibition space and the viewer hears the sounds of the gallery space. You hear the white noise…the conversations, or sweet nothings.

In “A Day Like Any Other,” the viewer will be pleasantly surprised with the interaction and engagement they will experience while viewing Nuenschwander’s works. The artist has successfully created a dance between the public and each of her works creating an enchanting thought provoking experience.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Kirsi Mikkola

Berlin-based Kirsi Mikkola’s first solo show, FLEX, at Sue Scott Gallery features multi-layered abstract paintings-cum-collages. Ranging in small to extra-large, these works take the artist a year to complete. Each piece speaks to one another and the viewer in language both compact and stuttering by way of using thin reeds of painted paper; and wide and expansive, covering larger areas with inspired color, coils and lengths. Peppered throughout are hand-rendered scrawls and scratches as well as found scraps which create a small/large contrast. There’s focus and energy in the work, but only in the context of the artist truly understanding the materials, spending time with each element. Mikkola’s obsessive paper cutting and design gives way to the beaten paper she uses as the surface, creating a scene of use and disuse but balance all the time.
Memory is all in these pieces employing a focused build up of stacked matchstick paper, as well as what Mikkola has chosen to leave behind. What she leaves behind, however, is vibrant and still untouched. Her oscillating use of color is striking. The smaller pieces tend to be louder in vibrancy, while the larger have a calm neutrality that give the pieces their broad expanse, while at the same time showcasing the laborious layering technique. She is creating worlds here with a build up of materials designed to pull the viewer out of their own space and into her ad hoc landscape.