Thursday, September 26, 2019

Veronica Ryan's Curiosities of the Caribbean

Bright orange shelves beckon me to discover their treasures. Pieces of coral, seed pods, and plastic bottles, stacked, adorned, and bound together with netting or string, are placed on crocheted doilies. Veronica Ryan’s works are evidence of a process of collection and ordering, a curiosity cabinet filled with fragments of her experience as a woman born in Montserrat and raised in England.

Nearby, hundreds of egg crates are stacked and connected by crocheted tunnels cut into them. One wall is lined with remnants of pipes, drains, and other plumbing components, closed up with cement or clogged with hair. 

These seemingly everyday objects, robbed of their function through Ryan’s interventions, convey a sense of displacement, and a yearning for home or a sense of belonging.  

The slightly cluttered arrangements, which evoke knick knacks on shelves in someone’s home, make it harder for viewers to find a place of contemplation. Yet, the show raises much larger issues of European colonization and its lasting effect on the peoples, cultures, and economies of the Caribbean, as well as the volcanic eruption in 1995 which forced many residents of Montserrat to evacuate permanently. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Implicit Intentions - Mapplethorpe Now

Implicit Intentions - Mapplethorpe Now displays the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe alongside works by other photographers. Implicit Intentions shows the nude human body and form while exploring themes of sexuality, race, human rights, intimacy and identity. The photographs evoke feelings of human connection, providing an intimate view of the vulnerability that comes with being photographed. In Mapplethorpe’s Embrace, a black man and a white man closely intertwine. Shown without shirts, their arms are wrapped tightly around one another, and their heads are tucked into each others’ necks. Though faces are obscured, the photograph evokes a deep feeling of connection, love and support. Intimacy is also shown in Mirror Study for Joe, a photograph by Paul Mpagi Sepuya. The work collages several photographs of embracing and intertwined nude figures. Sepuya’s use of layering adds depth by pulling parts of the figures forward, while simultaneously others are flattened into space. Shadowed and hidden figures create an enigmatic response. Implicit Intentions is successful in capturing the depth of intimacy and relationships. Sexuality is depicted throughout the exhibition in both subtle and overt forms, as captured by Mapplethorpe and the six supporting photographers. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

"As Above So Below" by Michelle Doll

A vision of heaven is reflected in Michelle Doll’s exhibit “As Above So Below” at Lyons Wier Gallery.  The title of the show, taken from the Christian Lord’s Prayer, “On Earth as it is in heaven” refers to the macrocosm reflecting the microcosm or heaven being reflected in the individual.  Doll’s sensitively painted figures are from the perspective of a voyeur from above with the viewer looking directly down onto the scene of the artist's close family and friends. Both lovers and those loved are represented in the images.  Several larger than life paintings referred to as "macros" are paired with much smaller "micro" paintings. All the works are of figures embracing in intimate scenes of familial love and nurturing kindness, and reflect a tenderness and hope for a world that at admittedly seems dark and daunting to many of us. The entwined limbs and bodies of families lying together embrace the viewer in quiet stillness.  Doll’s images challenge the viewer to confront their own mortality by referring to a biblical verse often used at funerals and memorials and remind us what is truly important in this life. “As Above So Below" is a hopeful and refreshing series focusing on the intimacy of family relationships.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Martha Minujin: Menesunda Reloaded.

Martha Minujin: Menesunda Reloaded Martha Minujin’s immersive and eccentric “Menesunda: Reloaded” invites its willing participants on a journey through time and oddball experiences. The installation from one of Argentina’s leading artists was first staged in 1965 and has been reconstructed (or in this case, reloaded) for the New Museum. The installation brings to mind a carnival or funhouse. Museum-goers choose a path through a series of unusually designed rooms and situations: turn to the right and you might awkwardly encounter performers enacting a couple in bed, turn to the left and you will find yourself in a mirrored room with confetti and fans. There are moments when the installation claims space, making itself bigger and harder to travail through; Participants are encouraged to find their way out of a dense jungle of materials or crawl through small holes. In this frenzied, adventure, you might find moments of solace inside an empty refrigerator or looking at a calming projection of an ocean. Accompanying the installation is a black and white video of the 1965 Buenos Aires staging of the work, providing us with a glimpse at the original participants and their reactions as they navigate Minujin’s creation. Other than fashion and location not much has changed, people are still lining up to enter the madcap world of La Menesunda. Running from June 26 to September 29 at the New Museum, this is a must lived experience.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Crossing Coasts: Danziger Gallery's 'Cali Style'

Danziger Gallery’s playful exhibition, Cali Style, open until October 5th, 2019, offers visitors a uniquely California-hipster experience within the heart of a booming metropolis. Located in unit 305 on 980 Madison Avenue New York, NY, Danziger Gallery gathered artists Barry McGee, Ed Templeton, Nick Fouquet, and Will Adler to render an exhibition that synthesizes distinctly Californian elements: surfing, photography, graffiti, skateboarding, and even eco-fashion. 
Photograph courtesy of Danziger Gallery 
Bright colors fill the white space, transporting visitors to a sharply different setting — quite far from the blaring sirens and thousands of pedestrians right outside the gallery walls. McGee’s graffiti-inspired works recall the vivid and undulating art that covers boardwalks, skateparks, and parking garages all over Venice Beach while Templeton attempts to engage with California youth culture, amalgamating past and present experiences, and Adler’s hazy, euphoric images of California surfers and beaches beautifully capture the coastal state’s spiritual essence. 
Photograph Courtesy of Danziger Gallery
While McGee, Templeton, and Adler’s works are essential to the West Coast aesthetic, Fouquet’s hand-crafted hats offer an opportunity rarely presented in art galleries: the chance to hands-on, physically engage with the works of art. These goofty yet culturally relevant visuals allow gallery visitors to accessorize and adorn themselves in this unique Cali Style.

Mika Rottenberg's "Easy pieces" at the New Museum

“Easy pieces” is Brooklyn-based artist Mika Rottenberg's first New York solo museum exhibition. The exhibition contains several video, installations and kinetic sculptures. With subject matter such as overwhelmingly packed Chinese shops, pearl farmers dissecting pearl shells, and whipping ponytails, she created an uneasy feeling for the viewers. The whole exhibition is like an unsolved puzzle, I can’t help but to try put each element into some order. She chooses everyday objects such as potatoes on dinning table and places them in the context of potato farm in Maine where millions of potatoes are dumping from a bin to create an unsettling yet overwhelming dreamlike environment making viewers rethink their own relationships with products they possess. The exhibition design was well thought out; for the piece “No Nose knows"(2015), the viewer enters through a storage and display area of a pearl factory. this installation area brings the physical distance close to the audience in an unfamiliar setting. Overall, I am dazzled by the surreal feeling that the exhibition provide and the internal connection of consumerism and labor.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

“Darling Divined” by Diedrick Brackens at the New Museum

Brackens’s woven textile artworks are displayed on walls, and two of his works are hung from wooden stands. In the two standing works, the backs including the knots are visible. This is a great opportunity to observe the construction of the work, rarely shown. In break and tremble (2019), the colors of the yellow horse connected to the tree and the dark gray background are reversed on front and back. In American Wedding (2018), stripe patterns on the background and the four figures are clearly shown on the front, but only a part of one figure is recognizable on the back. A plain yellow ground and red stripes appear abstract from the other textiles. The artist's bold decision to show the backsides provides an intriguing aspect for viewers to interact with, and makes them react longer to look closely at the difference between the two sides on the same pieces and processes of making. Additionally, the exhibition draws people’s attention in to the space with its glass wall facing towards the museum cafe. People in the cafe can easily find out, see through, and be led to the space with curiosity from the large and remarkable textile pieces displaying semi-abstract and simplistic, yet recognizable subject matters.