Saturday, November 30, 2013

Joker’s Last Laugh (revised)
On Mike Kelley Retrospective at MoMA/PS1



“I felt I was forced to go to the biographical at the point when I became disgusted with the general ahistoricity of the art world.” Thus Mike Kelley explained the increasing attention he paid to aspects of his traumatized past in an interview with Isabelle Graw. Biography was an increasingly important aspect of Mike Kelley’s work; but perhaps he just went too far in that direction when last year he took his life by smothering himself after dragging a gas barbecue grill into his bathroom.

Now, his retrospective at MoMA/PS1 is considered by some as yet another testimony to his stooge status. Although one might think of PS1’s background as a school as a site-specific twist to Kelley’s obsessions with the sexual undertones of childhood and repressive process of socialization. Above all, the show reveals how little we knew about Kelley’s hysteric diversity and heterogeneity, surpassed only by the like of Bruce Nauman – another artist who was a product of California’s hotbed of the late 20th Century.

Kelley belongs to a generation of artists who entered the American art scene via Los Angeles. Overshadowed by the New York mainstream, he was flourished on the margin and aimed at integrating the condition of marginality to his entire oeuvre. Mostly known for his stuffed animals pieces in which he “scattered” the plush stuffed toys on, around, or uncannily under a blanket, Kelley’s scatological side was largely overlooked in the art history surveys of 1990s.

Nostalgic Depiction of Innocence of Childhood (1990) is a manifest of abjection par excellence. Julia Kristeva defined abjection as all those essential parts of our body or its discharges (e.g. vomit, feces, etc.) that cause repulsion and are thus abhorred . Smeared with chocolate or feces, we see the naked artist and his co-performer, busy in an orgy with their fleecy toy bears and rabbits.  

In Kandors,  which are miniature cities isolated under large brightly-lit jars which are connected to cylinders, Kelley's weird inner child can be seen transformed into a geeky teenage obsessed with his hero, Superman. A clear sense of malice, ablazed with creepy bright pseudo-psychedelic colors, is  present. The cities are deserted dystopias preserved at their last throes. As if in a coma, these cities showcase another pointed yet not confrontational critique of myth-making industry of the west-coast.


The conceptual framework within which the late artist worked was as expansive as the tools and media he chose to communicate in. As I was walking in and out of PS1’s rooms, I could see that Kelley’s incisive humor and frantic energy pervade his entire oeuvre. The viewers and critics that criticized his art as ‘passive nihilism’ and ‘love of failure’ found new reasons for their claims, when the news about his tragic death sent shockwaves to the art world. But Kelly's sinister laughter, no matter how nervous and tense, was a clear message from an individual who was at pain to shake his fears of a deeply traumatizing world.  

Mike Kelly at MOMA PS1 REVISION







I don’t know which is more impressive, the sheer amount of work that Mike Kelley produced in his lifetime or his extreme talent for going wherever the work took him, never trying to be superficial with style and living true by the phrase, “content marries form”. His truly remarkable series was Kandor, which seemed to be his life’s work.
To those who aren’t fully equipped with their Superman trivia the work may seem extremely difficult to understand. Kandor is the capital city of the fictional Krypton, Superman’s home planet. The nutshell story goes that Superman’s nemesis, Brainiac, shrunk the city and once the man of steel was able to reclaim it, Superman placed it inside of a bell jar and stored it in his Fortress of Solitude upon the realization that he was unable to return it to it’s true size. Although this history is necessary in understanding the body of work, the aesthetics are seductive enough to be totally captivated by the artist’s vision. By the amount of work produced you can almost see into Kelley’s compulsive and obsessive relationship to the fantasy that we view but for Kelley was a reality. At the core of Kelley’s work is the innocence of childhood, and sometimes the lack there of. The Kandor series that spanned more than a decade, gives us the perspective of an adult’s desire for the fantasies, innocence, and impervious-to-harm attitude that we had as children. The projections of the bell jars with air being blown inside, creating a metallic mini tornado, serve as metaphor for the near chaos or despair of not being able to return to the innocence Kelley desires. We also get an incredibly vulnerable image of Superman as he recites text from Sylvia Plath’s prolific work, The Bell Jar (it’s an interesting combination as well, with the knowledge of Plath’s tragic life and suicide comforting a sad Superman). The work also reveals many of Kelley’s insecurities with himself to the public. There is the popular notion that the ‘big time’ artist is indestructible, has no insecurities and is so high on his pedestal that he cannot be touched, artists of fame bear a notion of immortality imposed by the public. Kelley is saying the artist is not invincible, the artist has demons just as you do and they are crippling. This rings even more true knowing that this was the series he was working on when he took his life. It’s important to view this work amongst his early stuffed animal installations as it lends us an incredibly vulnerable insight of who Kelley was as a person. It’s a wonderful display of an artist’s maturity and growth.

Aside from the Kandor series, we’re able to witness the life of a very troubled artist that wanted to possibly find answers through art, or perhaps a remedy for Kelley’s and others’ depression. It became exhausting trying to view all of the work in one visit, which proves that the work was not a desire for Kelley but an absolute need, although it does appear that he sometimes spread himself too thin in places. In a way, it seems that he was really living for his work and that was what had been keeping him with us until his depression became too unbearable.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Fantastic Journey: Wangechi Mutu


Wangechi Mutu’s survey exhibition A Fantastic Journey at the Brooklyn Museum delivers her characteristic themes of gender, race and over-consumption as well as the seductive watercolors and mixed media techniques that we have come to recognize as her own style. The exhibition mostly lives up to high expectations, however the most successful and satisfying parts of the show are still the familiar large-format trademark collages from the early 2000’s. The more recent work and the ventures into other media seemed awkward, and while not lacking in stirring visuals, they did not communicate with the viewer in the same effective manner as the collages.

The various works are united by way of theme, though, and Mutu repositions herself within the contemporary art discussion of the politicization and allure of the female. Like Kara Walker, Mutu’s figures are exaggerated and based in racial stereotypes; both are reminiscent of the issues that have plagued women for centuries, exemplified in Sarah Baartman, the Hottentot Venus from the early 1800's. The viewer gets a vague feeling of having been complicit in this history and objectification, and we question not only history's role but also our own. This feeling does not come from any one work that is over-the-top prescriptive, but instead it’s a general cloud that hangs over the show. It is a disturbing and guilt-stirring sensation depending on audience, but it’s in no way repulsive and is actually quite attractive. The viewer is confronted with darker themes yet rewarded for investigating them; he or she has been lured in by their attraction to the figure as a figure (especially in Root of All Eves and Riding Death in My Sleep), but also by the seductive watercolors, bright papers, and soft materials that Mutu manipulates.
Mutu's pools of colored inks on mylar create a beautiful and tactile experience. She is able to incorporate paper in a way that is not disturbing to the image and blends fluidly with the ink. This is noticeable in the larger collages like Le Noble Savage (2006) because of the gesture and motion present. Perhaps this is why the new video work, which was commissioned for this exhibition, does not translate as vividly. The characteristic motif of a strange, threatening hybrid female is present in the video The End of Eating Everything, and its message ties in to the other wall-based works, but it is removed from the audience and the luscious surface is lost, thus letting go of a lot of the aforementioned meaning. The installation Splendid Play Time is harder to decipher, though it references mass consumer culture via the trash bags. The space that Mutu creates may make one more willing to engage with it, but it is still rather impenetrable. The format of multiple, small gathered black bags hanging at various lengths from the ceiling just above the floor is common and lackluster.
Mutu’s work encompasses an enormous amount of information on many interconnected ideas about pop culture, transformation, and colonialism. This world is specific to her but also very much relatable and significant in today’s culture. The exhibition does not fail to grab our attention regardless of media, and successfully relies on our willingness to participate and understand a bit more of our historical and contemporary roles in the changing landscape of gender and race.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Sophie Calle at Paula Cooper


Somewhere between the psychological analysis of mourning and pure human reaction to mortality  lies Sophie Calle’s  Absence. Calle shows her virtuoso of tactility by leading the viewer through her exhibition with many material approaches of text, photography, sculpture and documentation to form a memorial of her mother’s passing from breast cancer. The entry to the main gallery first confronts the audience with a simple letter from Sophie Calle to curator Daniel Buren explaining why she will not show the film documenting her mother’s last moments due to the commercial nature of the gallery. Starting with a denial to show a piece, Calle then sets a much slower pace to the show by placing photographs of her choosing with framed text from her mother’s diary dispersed on gallery walls.
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-R4I_Z7D0OuQ/UpgpT7zFoMI/AAAAAAAAAFA/kxkCqTfeMQ8/s320/Calle.jpg

This main space contains three groups of works titled “Where and When? Lourdes, 2005-2008”, “Rachel, Monique, 2007-2013”, and “North Pole, 2009” which all operate to construct one story of love, loss and human mortality. Calle constructs a poetic portrait of her mother on the back wall through quotes and pages from the diary accompanied by photographs that remind and resemble her mother’s spirit . Among these pieces, Calle frames her mother’s last word printed over and over again, “souci”. The most telling piece is in text, neatly framed that quotes the mother’s diary from December 1985- December 1996, and ends in “ I died in a very good mood”.  By pointing out such peculiar parts of the diary, the daughter describes her mother’s attitude towards death that was not even 10 years away. Memory and mourning clash to form a recollection of the artist’s mother in a poetic yet individualistic light for the artists especially in the piece where the image of a stuffed giraffe Monique hangs as a memorial to Monique the mother.

The wall to the right displays a piece titled “North Pole, 2009”. Spaciously placed on the vast wall it serves as a documentary to a homage Calle made to the North Pole in the name of her mother. The most striking are the three plaster panels that have the text describing the voyage carved into them, white on white. The ghostly panels accompany documentary photographs of a diamond ring, a necklace, and a mother’s portrait that Calle took to the North Pole. Her mother desired to go there but never made it before her death. The orchestrated vision of commemoration flows into the third piece “Where and When? Lourdes, 2005-2008” where there is a deep sense of regret and time lapse. The vital portion of the piece is a number of marble tiles attached to the floor with names of various diseases and old diseases, black on white except for breast cancer. The silent frustration shows through the multiple diseases that have been cured except for the one that killed the artist’s mother. The photographs on the wall suggests the frustration with the time passage in a way that it makes the viewer pity such unfortunate miss, as if the cure is not far from grasp.


Sophie Calle is the master of getting too personal by letting her audience penetrate through her vision slowly, painting a portrait of human experience of mortality. Through bits and pieces the fragmented three pieces in the main room, the viewer becomes hyperaware of the various steps of mourning and acceptance of one’s love one’s passing.  (revised)

Agnieszca Kurant at SculptureCenter: exformation

Agnieszka Kurant's exhibition exformation doesn't exist. Or, rather, it displays a variety of cultural artifacts that don't exist. Kurant's show, which involves sound art, film, cartography and sculpture, draws attention to the phantom elements of human life: things that were forgotten or exist only within the human imagination. The exhibition consists of maps of islands that nobody can find, broadcasts of sounds that nobody can hear, books that have never been written, artworks that were never executed, and a film featuring characters that were never included in famous movies.

The piece Map of Phantom Islands appears to be a normal map, but upon closer inspection, it is actually a map of the world with the existing landmasses edited out and replaced with “phantom” ones. These phantom lands include mythological places (such as Atlantis and Lemuria) and islands that were sighted and charted by navigators during the age of exploration but never seen again. An atlas of these islands, with stories of their various origins, is presented alongside the maps. In a world stripped bare by satellite imaging and Google Maps, the prospect of unexplored territories that have never been (and can never be) charted and conquered is an alluring one. Kurant presents these lands as if they have already been claimed and mapped and deprived of their sense of mystery.



Kurant's sound installation, titled 103.1 (title variable), consists of a reel-to-reel tape recorder that broadcasts a shortwave radio signal to an antenna placed a few feet away. The tape consists of famous speeches from history since the advent of audio recording with the actual vocal content edited out: only the pauses and moments of silence and the hiss of magnetic tape remain. The signal is further degraded through its transmutation into a radio signal. Even though the transmission only travels a few feet and never leaves the walls of the gallery space, the result sounds like it could have traveled halfway around the world to reach the listener. The use of shortwave radio may serve to reference hidden and clandestine activities, as shortwave remains to this day a method of communication between spies and their handlers, usually in the form of mysterious “numbers stations” that broadcast coded messages across the globe. The resulting experience is the aural equivalent of reading a book with all the words removed, and only punctuation and white space remaining.


The show's most ambitious piece is a film titled Cutaways installed in a nearly hidden back room in a corner of the gallery space. The film features actors who played roles in famous movies but had their characters cut out of the films's final prints. These actors were asked to play their original characters (who have aged considerably since the original films were released) in a new narrative that unites these “cutaways” in a car junkyard. Once the story is finished, the credits roll: the credits are significantly longer than the movie itself and consist of an exhausting list of lost roles and their actors from throughout the history of cinema. Perhaps their roles were cut out of this film as well? Overall, exformation gives form to elements of human culture that would otherwise exist only as thoughts or memories. By charting lost islands and filming lost characters, Kurant summons them into the world of our experience, if only for a momentary peek at what they could have been.

Peter Schumann at the Queens Museum

One of the first exhibitions in the new space at the Queens Museum is Peter Schumann’s show The Shatterer. The founder of the Bread and Puppet Theater (in 1963) in Lower East Side,Schumann emigrated from Germany to New York in the age of 27 to escape the cold war in Nazi Germany. His practice was since highly influenced by the politics: his large-scale puppets were used as in demonstrations against the Vietnam War in New York City, Washington DC, and other cities in and outside of the U.S. With this site-specific installation he follows up 50 years of de- and reconstructions within his own practice as well as allegorical to how he sees the role as an artist and with it the responsibility in our society.

With two large scale installations, Schumann alters the rooms to a black and white landscape of figures in different shapes, sizes, and mediums. Oversized paper-mâché  puppets (he calls them 2 or 2.5 dimensional “Hampelmann”, from German: puppet), cover the walls in horizontal, diagonal and vertical directions, sculptures with branches arranged like families shelter each other, and paintings with figures and text. Suggesting a political correct equal rights, but ironical class differences statement, figures dominate the first, lightly chaotic room. The German word “Hampelmann” has a double meaning, it is the name for the puppet toy, but it also symbolizes a weak, will-less man who is easy to manipulate. The giant masks, which are hanging from the ceiling, seem to demonstrate the power from above. The power of producing chaos and guiding man in different directions reminds of the babylonian goal to shatter the world. With the title, Schumann brings into question who “the shatterer” is today?





        In the second installation, Schumann presents a potential order to the aforementioned chaos. With a monumental arrangement of the figures, along all four walls and multiple round fabric lamps in the middle of the room, that suggests a symbolic enlightenment as an order in the chaos. With a selection of his hundred handmade books of various sizes on view, the viewer is invited to read through the this library, in which each of them starts with the title “How to..”. New motifs fill the gaps between the figures to reach the top of the wall: Shoes, ladders and chairs. The symbolic and repetitive display starting from the chaotic bottom of the wall of hung little Hampelmänner, to the books that have humorous instructions to the different questions with a touch of disenchantment and going all the way up to the structured black and white drawings that resemble religious relics, the artist creates a spectacle that reminds us of a temple. One representative example of a book is the one titled “How to bake a bread?”. It includes drawings of a man sitting in front of the oven and thinking, until he has an idea that then needs to be shaped and baked. A metaphor that, to all intents and purposes, makes the viewers reflect about themselves and their responsibility to our society. Schumann works solely with cheap materials like cardboard, recycled paper, house paint and fabric. This approach supports not only his  Manifesto of Cheap Art from 1984 that claims for “Art wakes up sleepers!”, but also the idea of bare-essential production values.



 With this challenging exhibition that addresses everybody in his own context, Schumann creates an outstanding environment about the individual role in society, and reflects the escape from chaos into a visionary world. Apparently to be shattered offers the possibility of creating new dimensions and visions.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Abstract and display

       After visiting David Zwirner‘s recent exhibition of Ad Reinhardt’s work, I had mixed feelings as watching the film The Double Life of Véronique, which is philosophically confused and dazed from what we know or believe. The exhibition includes his best-known “ultimate” black paintings of the 1960s, and, in addition, features cartoons and photographic slides that are lesser known and rarely shown to the public. Two-thirds of the show contains historical documentation, and an extensive chronology of the artist’s life. The purpose of the biographical display, curated by Robert Storr, appears to break the cultural assumption of Abstract Expressionism, and also to differentiate A Reinhardt from other abstract artists from the same era. Biographical exhibits often happen with artist’s work after his/her death to build a foundation and focuses more on “I”(artist) rather than “work”. However, I cannot help feeling that it is against Reinhardt’s Dogma to be displayed this way, but to some extent, it is somewhat amusing for the viewers to see his belief undressed at the same time.

Abstract arts are often criticized as being meaningless, cold, sterile, and purely intellectual, and showing humanistic side of Reinhardt in the show seems like the easy solution to set the standard. However, first of all, I believe the solution must be found in “work” itself than “I”. Secondly, you cannot force the meaning to define the meaning correctly. He struggled his whole life to define what Abstract Expressionism was to distinguish himself from the Abstract Expressionists, with whom he nevertheless had a good agreement in common such as artists as Greenberg would agree with. In art, he let go of color, shape, texture, size, light, and even meaning to separate his work from others.  Outside of art, Reinhardt openly showed his absolute disgust towards any humanistic themes or forms in abstract paintings such as love, death, sex, and life. He even found the “Expressionism” of Abstract Expressionism once Motherwell pointed out as the human part (Compares to the “Abstract” as the art part) disgraceful, and Greenberg was, too, not an exception.


“I wrote Ten Rules for a Code of Ethics in which artists that sinned had special fit punishments, a little like that Gilbert and Sullivan” Ed Reinhardt during Oral history interview with Ad Reinhardt, circa 1964, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.


Reinhardt believed in a philosophy of art he called Art-as-Art Dogma which was his own rules and morals as an abstract artist. Unfortunately, his never-let-go egoistical writings did not have a place in exhibition area(I found the poem in one of two old catalogs Zwirner displayed on the shelf). Instead, the easy and charming version of his irascible insights are countless cartoons and 12,000 photographs from his 35mm Leica camera were included. Black paintings in the first room explain the meaning without words without over-saying as what art should be doing, but slides are meant to lecture someone. Cartoons were used as a different means and oddly adds forced energy to the tranquil art in a connected display. This show gave me an impression that viewers cannot be fulfilled with actress alone, so needed accessories to be felt as beautiful work.  In addition, I found his preparation sketches of black paintings in the catalog odd because I remember in the interview he distrusted preparation sketches and small collage works before the large works. In the press release, cartoons and photographs are in the category of “Pictures”, and black paintings are in “Paintings”. Does truly “Pictures” explain “Paintings”? Is his work in abstract-display(meaningless) or abstract and display?





Arlene Shechet at Sikkema Jenkins Co.


I visit Chelsea galleries as a cynic, questioning the machinations the art market and why the backdrop of the much too white pristine space.  I am overwhelmed by the hustle in the art world.  How the dealers, artists and collectors are all complicit.  However this past month, at Arlene Shechet’s show Slip at Sikkema and Jenkins Gallery, I felt grateful to see this work and the beautiful space it was shown in. 
         I love ceramics but I have thought of it as a medium limited in craft and function. Shechet’s pieces transcend my limited idea of the possibilities of clay and still remain ceramic.  They are simultaneously vessels and sculptures, some are collapsing, while others sprawl.  They rest on bases that Shechet builds of metal, wood and bricks.  The bases are integral to the work, setting a specific stage for each individual piece to perform a muted anthropomorphic monologue.
         Although the tradition of ceramics, like jazz, is global from the beginning of time, there is an intrinsically American texture to ceramics and jazz. As the tradition of Louis Armstrong progresses to Charlie Parker to Paul Moshen, Arlene Shechet descends from Peter Volkos, and in turn, George Ohr.  A tradition of American heroic ceramics in continued through these artists. Shechet’s work is in dialogue with the paintings of Elizabeth Murray.  Both Murray and Shechet use biomorphic shapes, bright colors, and reject the traditional rectangle to frame the work.  Shechet references Brancusi with her bases because there is a direct dialogue with each base to its sculpture.
         My experience has been how challenging clay is to work with.   A ceramics teacher once told me that the mantra to throwing on the wheel that is “my ego is not my amigo.”  Shechet has an equal partnership with clay. Although it through her hand as the artist, the work is simultaneously vessels, urns, and objects. The surfaces are mottled, and colorful, flat and dimensional.  I had a strange sensation that it requires all five senses to see the work.  One work stands unremarkable white base with a dry, rough surface, yet the color is a lush orange.  It looked as though it had been inflated and was collapsing in on itself as it lost air.  I wanted to eat it, mush it, and knock it over at the same time.  There are several pieces with a lunar or coral like surface.  Many are falling in on themselves, and some are held up with seams.  Some are a series of modular cubes in layers.  Arlene Shechet transcends any preconceived notion I have of how clay can behave.          Each example is a combination of tough and fragile.  She uses easily identifiable materials and the combination is indefinable.  Each is an investigation in balance. Each work is strikingly beautiful and ugly, formal, and informal.  Even the show’s title, Slip, is multidimensional whether it is technical use of slip as a bond, as a casting agent, slipping up, or slip that you wear. 
         I was grateful to experience these sculptures without cynicism.  Each piece in the show seemed an elegant balance.  And the each piece of the show: the artist, the gallery, the viewer worked in harmony.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sophie Calle - Absence at Paula Cooper Gallery

After her mother died of breast cancer in 2006, Sophie Calle decided to make a video of her last moments. It is with this movie, entitled Pas Pu Saisir la Mort (“Couldn’t Catch Death”), that the artist started the project Rachel, Monique in which she used “photographic documentation, narrative texts, found imagery and personal iconography” (press release) to tell the story of the disappeared. Like any of Calle’s projects, Rachel, Monique keeps evolving. The last adaptation, Absence, is the first version in English.

In this show, Calle does not show the video of her mother's last instants. The viewer is welcomed to the gallery by a letter the artist wrote to Daniel Buren – a French conceptual artist – explaining her reluctance to expose such a personal artwork in a commercial space. This prelude gives the spectator a curiosity to pass the lace veils that obscure the entrance of the main gallery space. On the left wall is displayed a story of how the artist followed the instructions of a fortuneteller to do a pilgrimage to Lourdes, the city of catholic miraculous healings, while her mother was dying. Arranged to be read in front of the pictures and texts' recordings of Lourdes, an installation of marble signs on the floor lists diseases that were supposedly cured in the city; a list in which breast cancer cannot be found. On the center wall is an arrangement of mixed-media that works as a mausoleum for the artist’s mother: transcriptions of a page from her mother's diary are alongside a list of all the "lasts" the artist’s mother accomplished (last pedicure, last party, and so on until the last breath) and different pictures. On the right wall is an explanation and short movie of Calle’s trip to the North Pole, a journey her mother wanted to take and that the artist accomplished after her death as homage.


The display of the show can be read as the story of Calle’s exploration of her mother’s disease and death; a reflection on the mechanisms and the rituals we go through to accept a family member's loss. It is not surprising for an artist that has made an artwork of her life that mourning her mother would be staged in front of the public. No one can ignore the force brought by the interplay between images and text, something that might not be possible to express with mere words or pictures. Something that will touch the spectator's heart every time. The narration of the loss of a loved one is not the only story to Absence. An adjacent room displays the work Purloined that investigates artworks stolen in the 1990s and subsequently found; all are represented by a picture of their exhibition space, except for one work by Lucian Freud that wasn't retrieved, which is represented by the drawer that used to keep it safe when not on view. Next to the pictures are transcriptions of curators or museum guards’ vision on the loss of the pictures.


By traversing the exhibition the viewer is confronted with Calle’s emotions around the recurring themes of absence and disappearance. Both rooms offer a story of loss and mourning, both rooms also offer closure and give the spectator a feeling of accomplishment, a sort of catharsis. But the biggest absence of the show remains unsolved: what about the video of the artist's mother's last moments, Pas Pu Saisir la Mort, the enigma of the whole project? A tenacious spectator will discover that the video will be shown at the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest, Manhattan, in May 2014.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Alternative Histories: Valerie Hegarty




The Brooklyn Museum's second installment of inviting contemporary artists to alter their period rooms does not disappoint with Valerie Hegarty’s contribution. Hegarty, a New York-based artist, brings her characteristic motifs of bright, smashed fruits and destructive black crows to the museum’s previously manicured period rooms. With these motifs she blends her themes of colonialism, manifest destiny, and the myth of the American dream. Hegarty's previous work often exploded (quite literally) out of her canvas paintings on the wall and she is no stranger to producing entire environments, such as her Breakthrough Miami installation from 2010.

Her additions to the period rooms are constructed of modest materials: paper, papier-mache, wire, paint and glue yet they almost completely become an old wooden chair, a gilded picture frame, or an intricate floor rug. Hegarty does not abandon her trademark neon pinks and yellows in Table Cloth With Fruit and Crows. Her choice of color is my only reserve about this installation, but I’m willing to accept the bright palette although it’s the only boldly non-realistic aspect of the installation. In the second room, the Cupola House, I was intrigued by the faux tiled floor that Hegarty had made but was bothered by being able to see the wrinkles and tattered edges of her mat.


Hegarty’s inductions are successful in converging the past with the present in intriguing and thoughtful ways. The painterly qualities that she manages to maintain in the installations bring them to life in an alluring way, while simultaneously questioning the darker side of our history. Still, many questions arise from these modifications. For instance, why has the whole room not been altered? Paintings are torn, grass grows through the floorboards, and birds have pecked straight through chairs, yet other elements such as the walls and fabrics seem un-aged. Certainly the museum would likely not allow extreme or permanent alterations, but we are left to wonder which actions were the decisions of the institution, and which ones were Hegarty’s?