Tuesday, May 22, 2007

MoCa, Art in America in Review, a little late.

So I finally got my act together and went to check out what the Guggenheim thinks is a good representation of art in America. I can’t in good conscience say that I’ve experienced the full breadth of the exhibit (all 300 years of it) as I have yet to visit the installment at the Shanghai museum, but at least now I know what’s supposedly going on in contemporary art. And what is it that’s going on? A bunch of TV’s arranged in shrubbery with synchronized 80’s themed videos playing on them. Actually, with the exception of this ridiculous and yet admittedly amusing piece by Nam June Paik, I really enjoyed a lot of the works. Matthew Barney’s “The Cremaster Cycle,” for example really fascinated me. He had a whole room to himself and there were about five or six TV’s arranged in a circle hanging from the ceiling with five or six entirely different videos playing on them. I certainly didn’t understand what was going on but the visuals were intriguing and while they didn’t make any sort of sense to me, there was a narrative element to them that kept me interested for a while. He also had some music playing that, surprisingly, suited all of the videos well even though I’m pretty sure it was only meant to apply to one video at a time. I’m sure his huge budget didn’t hurt either.

As for more hilarious video art, Paul Chan’s “Tin Drum Trilogy” was pretty entertaining. I only had the chance to watch part of one of the videos, as they were each at least 30 minutes long. The one I watched involved the heads of some political figures like Condoleezza Rice and John Ashcroft superimposed on the bodies of soldiers in Iraq. Simultaneously each “character (the political figures)” is heard speaking some nonsensical prose over really attention-grabbing, experimental music. Needless to say, I was only interested in the music.

Some of my favorite pieces included things like Kara Walker’s “Resurrection!” which upon further investigation, I found is meant (along with the rest of her work) to evoke the stereotypes of the south, African Americans and slavery. The work is made of silhouettes painted (I think?) to the wall and decorated by several colorful pink and blue projections that make the work look fun and full of life. Yet upon closer inspection on the silhouettes one realizes the dark side of the piece as they are all holding dead bodies, heads on sticks and other, you know, typical things. For purely aesthetic reasons I also really loved the exploding cinema painting on the way up to the second floor but unfortunately the name of the artist escapes me.

While none of the artists’ messages really made an impression on me I found them all (or most of them) aesthetically pleasing and that proved to be enough for the self-indulgent art lover that I am.

1 comment:

Kelan Thomas said...

Matthew Barney is the best contemporary artist in America. You should definitely investigate The Cremaster Cycle more, since they are meant to be seen in their entirety and not just a video installation.