Thursday, September 23, 2010

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.


  1. You used adjectives and descriptions very well. At the beginning I would introduce the artist a little bit more, mentioning her background and that this is a major mid-career exhibition etc. I’d also introduce the show by mentioning themes and materials at the beginning. I like your comments on the clock as well as the video piece. I also liked ‘Arabian Moons,’ and was delighted by the nearby ‘1001 Possible Nights’ - framed star clusters in the night sky, made from hole-punched paper from pages of the famous ‘One Thousand and One Nights.’ I agree with you regarding ‘The Conversation,’ but when you mention that you also thought her ‘other large scale works seemed lacking’ I wonder which ones you mean.

  2. I very much like your descriptions of Neuenschwander's works: you use simple but meaningful language that is much in the style of the artist herself. Rearranging the first paragraph might help to solidify your claim that the artist "attempts to capture the poignancy, melancholy and repetition of human life..." If you move this sentence to the end of the paragraph, it would better serve as the thesis of your review. Your description of the work, 'A Day Like Any Other', would then flesh out the paragraph and lead up to your key argument of the artist's ability to capture "simple daily life". I think it would also be helpful for your audience for you to note in the opening paragraph where this exhibition is on view.