Thursday, October 29, 2015

Doris Salcedo’s "Carnal Vessels" at the Guggenheim (revision)

At the Guggenheim, I started from the 6th floor and slowly walked down through four stories of Doris Salcedo’s retrospective with momentary interruptions of filtered sky. In the show, one might encounter shirts impaled by bars, tables with scars and seams, petals stitched together like skin, garments drowned and solidified by concrete, and soil with leaves growing through solid crevices. Walking through the gallery is a solemn and curious procession through the materiality of grief.

There is something sinister about the use of stark, musty wood dressers and armoires as a remembrance of death. Doris Salcedo specializes in meticulous operations of cutting and pasting, sewing, and stapling incongruent pieces of lost objects and fabrics together. The process and result of her amputated chairs and needle-made clothing
are unconventional gravestones for people of Columbian decent, and around the world who have lost their lives to political upheaval. Her hands, and art, physically and viscerally remember the pain of loss. 

I look up and see the quiet, shifting visitors as mourners who’ve come to fill the space of the catacomb with a respectful gravitas. Treading the spiral floors and being reminded of a passed loved one, I came to appreciate the beauty of household objects as a medium for art and remembrance.

There is something about the stuff of people, that inhabit their spaces, that characterizes their existence. The accumulation of things, as artifacts of a personal history, seem to cease and disappear with their person. Doris Salcedo’s collection of clothes and furnishings made intimate possessions poignant in their sterile isolation. The museum gives dignification in housing her work, but the audience of her artwork are limited to those willing to pay a pretty penny at the entrance. Perhaps her pieces deserves to be placed where the intentions of the art would be more broadly received. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Julia Bland at On Stellar Rays

   Like a hidden gem, the On Stellar Rays gallery is tucked away among scrubby Lower East Side buildings. The gallery’s main entrance door lacks any prominent labels to entice audience, and visitors must buzz the bell to access the entrance. Feeling as if entering an exclusive event, visitors’ expectation about the works to be presented grows as they walk up the stairs. There, the exhibition “If you want to be free” by Julia Bland is presented in the larger room.

    Julia Bland’s exhibition utilizes the space direction very well to allow the viewers to fully participate in the interpretation of the works as a whole. Overwhelmed by the surrounding patterned weavings, one can focus on the compositional patterns of each work and dissect the different materials that are used in each of the work. Bland’s works incorporate ropes, fabrics, canvas, and paints to create intricately patterned nets that are about the size of a large tapestry. Compositional designs that are in symmetry often times play with different colors to express the contrast. In addition, the details with the oil paints, tied rope knots, and layerings of canvas captures the audience’s eyes and draws them in. The colorful shapes of the abstract geometries provide mood and emotional tones for the audience to take in differently and personally.

Friday, October 23, 2015

MoMA PS1: Greater New York (revision)

As the fourth exhibition of its series, MoMA PS1: Greater New York #4 presents 157 artists and over 400 works. Viewing this amount of diversity can be difficult, however I felt that the strong curation decisions involving space worked to support the intention of the artists.

Works proposed together like the collaged surfaces of Amy Brener’s sidewalk sculptures and Nick Relph’s mixed-media street photography complimented each other through a dialogue of line and material. Brener’s sculptures mirrored the composition of buildings featured in Relph’s photographs, and also revealed Relph’s photographs in and out of the translucent glass crushed panes.

Then, the superabundance of artists’ figurative sculptures featured in a large bright room with windows catered to give more space to the eye. I enjoyed the speckled placements of the strange cast of characters which allowed for viewing each piece individually and as a collective.
Another strong use of space occurred in the exhibition of KIOSK collective. This piece displays the archive of 3,000 objects. Each object is framed in its own box, and stacked to create walls to meander through. With a tall ceiling height and narrow rectangular dimension, this room worked well to create a claustrophobic space one experiences in junk resale shops.

As a result of the curation to spatial awareness, the exhibition was composed of great rhythm and function to the artist.

KIOSK (Founded 2005)
1,303 People, 2005-2015

Search Versus Re-Search: Josef Albers, Artist and Educator at Yale University (Revised)

“Search Versus Re-Search: Josef Albers, Artist and Educator” approaches the work of Albers through his experiential teaching methodology while a professor at the Yale School of Art from 1950 to 1958. The concise exhibition presents Albers’ works alongside exercises with color, material, and line undertaken by his students. The intimate space of Yale’s Edgewood Gallery provides visitors with an encounter that successfully translates Albers’ belief in art as experience, focusing on practice over result. His dedication to teaching and his diverse and thorough methods reflect his search for novelty through experimentation.

Albers’ color theory, brought together in his book Interaction of Color, from 1963, is clearly presented throughout the exhibition. Folios of the book, students' collages with colored cut paper, and some of Albers’ paintings – including a couple from the Homage to the Square series – are complemented with tablets displaying a recently launched app that lets visitors venture into exercises from the book. Here, interactive technology serves the purpose of adapting the book to the screen, making it widely accessible and allowing users to experience Albers' teaching methods.

However, the exhibition shows that Albers’ studies went far beyond color theory. The simple exercises with materials and lines – as seen in the three dimensional paper-folding structures, the delicate wire and woven patterns, and the black and white drawings in the central vitrines – reflect Albers’ emphasis on the creative process. One leaves the exhibition renewed, as if Albers’ work could lower our pace by teaching us to value simplicity, observation, and practice.    

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Salon 94 Bowery: Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri (revised)

Salon 94 presents the first U.S solo exhibition of Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri, one of Australia’s most acclaimed contemporary Aboriginal artists. Born in 1958, Tjapaltjarri and his family, part of the Pintupi Aboriginal tribe, lived a traditional nomadic life as hunter-gatherers. In 1984, Tjapaltjarri and his family were found by chance and caused a media sensation, known in the newspapers as the “last lost tribe.” As Tjapaltjarri and his family were led to the outside society with others of Pintupi community, he was introduced to painting at a community art center of Aboriginal art.

Untitled, 2015
Acrylic on Canvas
96.06 x 72.05 inches

Measuring over 8 ft. tall and 7 ft. wide, the swirling, rope-like lines in Tjapaltjarri’s paintings are hypnotic, creating optical illusions in the way the paintings vibrate and linger both in your head and eyes for a few seconds after looking away. The space is so small, however, that no matter where you turn, you are caught again in the trance. Through the optical intensity of Tjapaltjarri’s paintings, he evokes the landscapes of his home back in the deserts of Western Australia; the undulating swirls and curves vibrate, depicting the shifting movements of the desert sands. Although his paintings are loosely painted in acrylic on canvas, they do not just hang flat on the wall, but feel 3-dimensional as if they are in constant motion in the space as well as, with the viewer.

Wynne Greenwood, "Kelly" at The New Museum (revised)

Enter the small fifth floor gallery at The New Museum, and you encounter a block of bulky monitors and a wave of sounds. Crafty sculptures of heads made of household objects and toys sit under vitrines between televisions. Projections skew awkwardly into the corners. Headphones hang everywhere. Walk around the corner and two more monitors sit on the floor obscured by straps that, under different circumstances, would hold sex toys.

One doesn't know where to start, there does not seem to be a clear chronology to the display of the pieces in the gallery. There must be over thirty hours of video, so it is best to just dive in. Viewing this exhibition takes patience.

Installation view at The New Museum, Photo by Joerg Lohse

The majority of the show is made up of Greenwood's musical performances of her band Tracy + The Plastics. Greenwood toured as Tracy years ago, performing with two video projections of band members behind her (all three band members are played by Greenwood). Through a residency at the New Museum, she has created an archive of performances, many of which were not recorded the first time around, and would otherwise be lost to time.

Greenwood tackles miscommunication and conflict within feminist discourse, as well the digital vs the real. There is a great deal to ponder once you enter her girl band, low-craft world. It's tempting to say that this exhibition is squeezed into too small a space, but it is more like a portal. You enter the wormhole, and you are shown a the world through Greenwood's camera lens.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Revised: Doris Salcedo's retrospective exhibition at the Guggenheim

The Guggenheim Museum presented a major retrospective exhibition of Doris Salcedo. The museum's iconic spiral building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright usually shows, but this retrospective exhibition was held in the regular white galleries off to the side of the spiral. I am grateful for the museum not showing Salcedo's work in the spiral ramp. Often, when an exhibition is held in the spiral, the artwork competes  with the architecture for the viewers' attention.
Salcedo's work gives form to pain, trauma and loss, and addresses social issues such as violence, racism and colonialism of Colombia and other places she has lived. A lot of her work is about mourning. The sculpture Plegaria Muda(2008 - 2010) includes grass rising through wooden tables; as explained by introduction, this piece responds to acts of violence as many other pieces in the show. The grass reflects the mourning that mothers felt for their children who lost their lives to gang wars.
"Art do not answer, only pos questions," Salcedo said during a recent interview. We live in a world that is naturally imperfect; there are difficult questions, serious problems and issues such as violence everywhere and everyday. Artists who show a sincere care of other's pain can easily touch me. Many might debate that Salcedo's work is too emotionally heavy, intense and straightforward. Her sincerity is delivered through her pieces by the subject matters she chose such as the Plegaria Muda , to the beautifully handled materials and fabrication.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Yoko Ono: One Woman Show at MoMA

Yoko Ono, who is well known as John Lennon’s wife, is simultaneously an avant-garde musician, and a performer. Although there are not so many people notice that, but Ono makes numerous art pieces as well. Now in Museum of Modern Art, Christophe Cherix curated Ono’s solo exhibition “One Woman Show, 1960-1971”, showing her drawings, installations, sculptures, music, videos, and performance pieces, which made in the 1960s. To show the visitors that Yoko Ono is no doubt an influential artist by herself. With the show, we can see not only her creations, and her amazing ideas to challenge our imaginary. When you first arrive at the show, there is a green apple at the entrance. This is a remade work of “ Apple” from 1961. For Ono, art is not only making beautiful objects. Art is a medium to make people think, and a moment to let people look at things differently. Have you ever looked at a green apple and considered it a designed object? This is the first question Ono gives to the visitors to think about. 
In her work “Grapefruit”, Ono created more than 150 pieces of instructions and self-published them in 1964. The words she wrote were so beautiful that “Grapefruit” can be considered as poetry. Inside the book, Ono also made some line drawings by pencil next to the instructions, which were related to the words she wrote for the pages. The collected instructions open the audiences imaginary and provide a different aspect of viewing. In “Cloud Piece” for instance, she wrote:
Imagine the clouds dripping. Dig a hole in your garden to put them in. How could clouds drip and we could dig a hole in our garden to put them in? In a way, “Apple” and “Grapefruit” are related to each other. She keeps breaking rules of our vision and opening the questions to the audiences.

Yen-Jui Lai

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Jacob Lawrence: Migration Series “One-Way Ticket” at MoMA

Museum of Modern Art presents Jacob Lawrence: Migration Series “One-Way Ticket” which includes his numerous paintings which represent the Great Migration time in America. His paintings describe how and why people; especially black people moved to North America from South America. And short descriptions are written under the paintings to explain that situations. All paintings are small like the letter size. Therefore, the audience can feel like they are reading a fairy tale book. In this reason, people actually moved step by step by fallowing the walls for reading the sentences and watching the paintings. 

I think this exhibition has great compositions for story telling. The other section presents the blues. In the dark hallway, Blues musics play and people stay there to listen. I believe music is one of the most touched genre to present people’s emotions, particular time and culture everything. The blues music intimated with people at that time therefore he painting series, short stories and the blues; all these compositions show a perfect story telling. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Yoko Ono: One Woman Show at MoMA

          Visiting “Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960-1971” at MoMA is like having a casual conversation with the artist. Yoko Ono's paintings, sculptures, installations, and films convey the playful aspects of everyday life. From embracing beauty in the natural decaying process in Apple (1966) or the simple self reflection in Box of Smile (1972) to inviting viewer to make physical contact with A Painting to Be Stepped On (1961) or becoming part of Bag Piece (1964), the artist celebrates the notion of play.

          The label for the all White Chess Set (1966) is inscribed with humorous words, “chess set for playing as long as you can remember where all your pieces are.” Although the work seems ordinary at first, with a second glance the viewer realizes both sets of the chessmen are white, matching the game board table and chairs. The artist's minimal adjustment on the traditional chess transform the game into a new kind of play. Instead of playing against each other, the players work together to continue moving their own white chessmen across the board. Like the playfulness of White Chess Set, the exhibition fills the museum space with the lively spirit with Yoko Ono whispering “play with me.”

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Doris Salcedo at The Guggenheim

A Flor de Piel (2014)

            Entering the Doris Salcedo show is much like walking into a mausoleum; a dark, contemplative energy fills the room.  Each piece exists silent and monumental, occupying the physical space and our own internal landscape like tombstones honoring the memories of those passed. These “tombstones” – taking the form of cement-filled and crudely amalgamated furniture, for example – have an eerie magnetic quality that transforms the viewer from a mere bystander to a witness to the unspoken tragedies of the people of Salcedo’s native Colombia.
            Perhaps one of the more disturbing pieces in the show involves an awkward arrangement of wooden tables. What isn’t immediately evident is Salcedo’s subtle perversion of these familiar surfaces: she has painstakingly woven individual hairs through minuscule holes across the tabletops. There is something undeniably haunting that inspires a visceral discomfort: a familiar object desecrated by human hands, its surface pierced with needle and hair.

            Salcedo’s visual poetry has developed to communicate the immense sorrow that plagues the lives of her subjects. Whether it is the image of preserved rose petals stitched by hand together to create a textile resembling flayed skin or a young girl’s dress claustrophobically engulfed in concrete, Salcedo insinuates a dark energy that lingers with the viewer.

Mike Kelley at Hauser & Wirth: Kandors and English Vice

Mike Kelley’s exhibition at Hauser & Wirth begins in a dark room with resin casts of retro-futuristic cityscapes lit from below in different colors, depicting different versions of Superman’s birth city on Krypton, Kandor. In another room megalopolis is displayed, along with bell jars and vacuum tubes, representing Kandor’s fate to be saved only by Superman’s cunning. A nearby corridor contains lenticular images that shift between empty jars or disconnected tubes and versions of Kandor. This series is preceded by a disturbing image of clowns, which is revealed to be from the film playing in the final room.

While the film plays, visitors can walk through its set and props: the ruins of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. Inside the desolate pile of stones that make up the Fortress are the remains of Kandor: a final miniature city glowing within a bell jar ventilated with vacuum tubes. It illuminates an enclave of gold and jewels, however these riches are abandoned, as is Kandor, suggesting Superman will not return.

In the film, the Fortress is inhabited not by Superman, but by Victorian clowns enthusiastically sexually abusing a captive woman. The villains are the victors, and the hero does not save the day—a morbid, if not refreshing take on the superhero story.

Sarah Sze - Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

     Tanya Bonakdar Gallery is currently presenting an installation exhibition by Sarah Sze. Sze blends and incorporates many materials and objects such as prints of nature images, mirrors, paint, metals, plants, and household items. When you walk into the first the floor main room, the work seems like it is under construction, but some of  the objects look like they are being destroyed. Nothing appears completed. There are half built structures, fallen paint from the ceiling, and shredded prints. The installation is located through the whole gallery, instead of one giant piece. When viewers wander surrounded by scatteredly but carefully located pieces, each one can find a different interpretation depending on their own perspective.

      Any minor piece may stealthily navigate you to the other rooms. Usually when you leave from a bright and spacious room, you will step into a dark and cramped one. Despite the high contrast of rooms, the artist's style and themes remain consistently. In the dark, Sze emphasizes more how the sound and light interact with her installation by projecting slow motion of animals running or flying. It is a sensory experience of dialogues of time and space. The way to discover this intricately crafted installation reminds me how we encounter our contemporary world where overabundance information generated.