Friday, September 18, 2015

Take an Object : MoMA

Once the viewers enter the exhibition room, the very first work they encounter is Jasper Johns’ Flag (1954-1955). In which the viewer ask, "Is this a flag or a painting?” His work presents ambivalence to the viewers as he demonstrates the thin boundaries between the 2D paintings and 3D sculptures. The special exhibition at the MoMa, Take an Object, consists of 1950s-60s art works from the artist of the new art movements, Postmodernism. The leaders of Postmodernism took objects and created a whole new piece of art by reassembling them into different shapes. Common focus of their works was recycling of the items that were once abandoned to create a harmony of abstract forms that suggest the artist's purpose and theme.

Ranging different continents of contemporary artists, such as Robert Rauschenberg in U.S.A. and Jacques de la Villeglé in France, the shared aesthetic and ideological trend of Postmodernism grew popular. The artists explored the "combines" of the scrap materials like smashed autoparts, canvas bags, and food scraps. Their works generated new themes and ideas by giving meanings to fractures, trashes, and junks. This re-interpretation of simple junk objects through mixture and collaboration often times deliver unclearness and ambiguity. By doing so the viewers puzzle over the work’s intention and find various meanings to it.


Jaar's multimedia installation is a politically motivated installation focusing on controversial  issues behind the text, such as unbalancing power of policy, archiving history and the truth. 
It consists of three black lit text panels located on the wall of a corridor in a dark room. At the end of the corridor, there is an oxymoron room which has black painted walls. A giant bright white screen fills the wall facing to the entrance. Jaar is known for The Rwanda Project, an installation which focus on the political issue of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. 

The piece consists of two parts, and both of them convey a cohesive idea perfectly.  First is the three black lit text panels, which are more like announcement boards of telling the truth behind the text. The work has no sounds or images and only have text on the panels on the wall. In the second part of the work, viewers can  see a glimmer from a second room after passing by the panels and walking down a dark narrow corridor. The minimalistic bright screen lights the entire dark environment. The whole project, especially the contrast between documentary panels and the brightly lit room creates a violent vision between the exposures of the hidden truth of those political issues and the facts of burying the truth.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Yoko Ono: One Woman Show

The MoMA presents its first exhibition dedicated to the work of Yoko Ono. Approximately 125 of her works have been packed into a rectangular showing space which was apparently less than 2,000 square ft. Paintings, installations, performances, audio recordings, and films. Well-known pieces such as Cut Piece (1964), Apple (1966), and her more recent work, such as To See The Sky (2015), are included. In regard to both medium and subject, it is always not easy to answer what exact kind of art Yoko Ono does. This exhibition makes it clear that she does a little of everything. 

                                       Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece (1964)

In Cut Piece, which is a famous early work of feminist art, the audience was invited to cut off any piece of the clothing Yoko Ono was wearing. I do think the video is a little too short and rough. Just like many other conceptual pieces in the 70’s, some details were not carefully handled, such as the ending.  However, I still enjoyed some of her pieces there. The bigger issue I have is the way this exhibition has been curated. While Yoko Ono's work has the randomness characteristic already, to put a big amount of them into a not-big-enough space, and arrange them not in any logic (not by time, not by form, not by anything) may be the worst thing to.

Yoko Ono: One Woman Show at the Museum of Modern Art

“Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960-1971” at MoMA exhibits an oeuvre of painting, sculpture, film, performance, and music by Yoko Ono. The exhibition appears focused on artistic merits, but closer inspection reveals otherwise. Yoko Ono’s pieces are direct—you are told to forget it; the lobotomy needle awaits. You are told to step onto the floor painting, to touch each other— and you reach nervously for the closest stranger.

Although interactive elements were included, (notably Bag Piece (1964)) I could not ignore the barrier between what could and could not be touched. Yoko Ono’s conceptual art completes in the viewer’s mind, but the unperformed pieces cause confusion. Participation in White Chess Set (1966) cannot occur in the guarded work. Visitors can ascend To See the Sky (2015) staircase, while Ceiling Painting (1966) ladder is off-limits? Although these curation choices are likely for protection, learning that John Lennon engaged in the latter and Painting to Hammer a Nail (1961/1966), it becomes clear that celebrity also usurps artistic intention. These regulations defeat Yoko Ono’s message, and instead of breaking down the walls of the museum, we are left in the same space continuing to keep our hands to ourselves amongst historical artifacts.

Sarah Sze: Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

We see leftovers of Sze’s thoughts. Strewn paint, twigs left at a teetering balance, a wide plank of wood left on the lap of a chair as if temporary and forgotten. Perhaps the placement is a remnant of distraction, meant to resemble our behavior in a society overwhelmed by information. In the gallery are torn photographs, patched borders with negatived spaces and blacked out newspapers. A playground of implied lines. There is deliberation in the type of objects, the precarious nature and architecture of their placement. 

She has physicalized a digital landscape. We can easily be subdued by all the tangible data, the pixel by pixel displacement of surfaces. It seems as though we came upon the work amidst the artist’s process. We have no sequence of time or hierarchy of organization as we enter the installation. Like our digital worlds, she flattens time and allows us to explore spatially. Her installation at first chaotic, becomes a realization of the tender human nuance in a tactile system of lines and organization.  

In the pandemonium of information, one can seek peace in the personal order that Sze has created for and left for us. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Endless House: Intersections of Art and Architecture, MoMA

Borrowing its name from Frederick Kiesler’s unrealized project, Endless House: Intersections of Art and Architecture presents drawings, models, videos, and photographs from MoMA’s collection from 1940s until today. Curated by Pedro Gadanho and Phoebe Springstubb, the exhibition creates a dialogue between architects and artists that explore the creative potential of the house as a means to expand the limits of architecture.  

Kiesler’s project is the point of departure of the exhibition; his organic, fluid forms are shown in direct contrast with Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth house, an icon of the rationalism of the International Style. The center of the gallery is filled with models, from the post-modernist Vanna Venturi House by Robert Venturi to the odd shapes of Frank Gehry and contemporary projects by Kazuyo Sejima and Asymptote Architecture – all reflecting a desire to challenge the concept of house through experimentation. However, while most of these projects seem to break with tradition through a formal approach, fragmenting and re-ordering spaces, works from artists Gordon Matta-Clark and Rachel Witheread, among others, remind us of larger themes related to the house: the relationship between public and private space as well as between impermanence and memory. Artists and architects bring different perspectives to the subject, presenting the major role of the house in the evolution of architecture as well as the universal and personal subjects that the idea of home evokes. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tanya Bonakdar Gallery: Sarah Sze

The Tanya Bonakdar Gallery exhibits Sarah Sze’s latest installation and sculptural works, as her materials range from paint drips, wood planks to light bulbs, mirrors and rocks. Sze blurs the boundaries between sculpture, painting and installation, transforming the gallery space into a complex landscape.

If you are new to the gallery, it is possible to miss the gallery on the first floor, which is located on the left side of the entrance. The confusion is multiplied when one notices a pile of wooden planks on top of a plastic bag with drips of white paint sliding off is stacked near the glass window, as if the gallery is under some kind of construction. Coca Cola cups, half-filled Poland Spring water bottles are placed “randomly” on top of the ladder along the white and blue paint drips, as if the workers of the gallery had left it after a day of work. After a couple minutes of wandering the space and stumbling in to random objects, one notices that the high ceilings with clamp lights, paint drips on the floor, wooden planks, mirrors and ripped photographic images are not just randomly thrown away in space but precisely placed, offering the viewer to connect the dots, construct meaning and relationship between these objects and themselves.