Thursday, April 9, 2015

On Kawara – Silence : Revision

Guggenheim presents On Kawara – Silence, Kawara’s first retrospective includes date paintings (the Today series), postcards (the I Got Up series), telegrams (the I Am Still Alive series), maps (the I Went series), lists of names (the I Met series), newspaper cuttings (the I Read series), the inventories of paintings (Journals), calendars (One Hundred Years and One Million Years), as well as his drawings. I wonder how Kawara’s long artistic journey under his immaterial and abstract concept –time- can be revealed and filled with the rotunda. However, my whole impression of this show is “bathos”, which is a little vain, and structurally matching with the coiled rotunda.


The exhibition started to fill with the wall by his early drawings, which were unfamiliar, fresh, and very interesting for me because I could see not only his diverse ideas for installation art but also his nature. Through Kawara’s series of work, viewers are inspired to imagine his everyday practices, his social connections including famous figures in the Art world, and other historical places and times where he passed. However, the way of arrangement his oeuvre repeated continuously so, I think, the concentrating energy of exhibition was loosen at the end to display the greatest One Million Years, which is on the biggest canvas work in this show. Although Kawara’s work has profound ideas and experiments about the transition of time and space, the Guggenheim didn’t transmit the meaning of his work enough and left viewers exhausted at the end.    


  1. Hi Soo. I agree with your opinion that the exhibits ends too abruptly. Due to the nature of Guggenheim's architecture, it's inevitable for the viewer to move from the absolute start to the absolute end of the exhibit without much deviance in path. I don't think the curator considered that too much, which is unfortunate because it was interesting to see the concept of time juxtaposed against the spiral architecture (I told Eunjin the same thing). The fact that I had to walk back down the spiral broke the immersion for me and I think it would've been better if there were stairs or an elevator to mark the end of this linear exhibit.

  2. I forgot to add that you should make the list in the first paragraph shorter.

  3. Hi Soo. I think it is good to provide a whole list of works to reader, but since he had exhibited so many works, it is better to categorize them from your own point of view rather than just give out a brief list. As you mentioned, Kawara 's works are mainly about his daily live collections, as a reader, I want to understand more what types of daily live collection he does and why does he collect them. I agree that his works are being presented not only in a 2-Dimension way but they also stand up by set as a sculpture. When you say Guggenheim is not a good place for his exhibition, I doubt that. I think the reason why Frank Lloyd Wright designed Guggenheim in a spiral way is to create a motion gesture within the gallery building. Instead of having a simple open space, Guggenheim motivate people to walk through whole gallery in sequence. It seems to be relevant to Kawara's works, as his collections are also refer to a sequence of his life experience. Although it is true that the whole journey is exhausting, it direct people to walk through the collection process of Kawara's life.