Tag Archives: Art

Lower East Side Expedition

Last night in the Lower East Side heralded the start of the fall season for many of the gallery spaces.   I caught a few of the gallery shows, but mostly just enjoyed walking around the neighborhood.

 Aïda Ruilova, Goner, 2010

I viewed Aïda Ruilova’s video Goner at Salon94 Bowery (Sept. 7th-Oct. 23rd).  The particularly brutal video showed the artist in a domestic interior.  In an unclear fashion, the artist self mutilates or the figure behind the camera assaults her body.  The mixed metaphor of self-violence, mixed with aggression from behind a camera presents a piece that is difficult to watch.  The conventional beauty of the artists highlights the bloody assault.  Even though the artist intends to be shocking, it is hard to view the violence with out fixating on her personal beauty.


Andrew Gbur, Untitled, 2010

In an attempt to enjoy art which was less abrasive, I headed to Eleven Rivington to see the three person group show “Andrew Gbur, Keltie Ferris, Jackie Saccoccio” (Sept. 7th-Oct. 16th).   The artists all exhibited large scale paintings, with bright colors, and abstract forms.  Despite having the least amount of work in the show, Keltie Ferris dominated with her work [[[///]]].  In addition to being more formally developed, Ferris’ painting brought a spontaneous energy to the gallery.  The other works sitting beside the Ferris’ canvas seems underdeveloped or unimaginative.  It was nice to see large-scale works within a Lower East Side Gallery and be able to spend ample time with each work.   While the smaller spaces of the LES lend themselves to less monumental work, it is always refreshing to focus on large-scale colorful canvases.

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Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects

The Museum of Modern Art attempts to inform the general public about what any owner of an IPhone already knows: how humans relate with objects changes rapidly.  The exhibition “Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects,” presents a muddled collection of technological innovations, toys, and data visualization. Unfortunately, the show lacked a thesis statement or opinion of the interaction of humans and technology.  While museums often struggle with showcasing innovative technologies in the context of fine art, “Talk to Me” lacked a strong curatorial voice or institutional opinion to provide a readable narrative of the show.

The curators struggled with the presentation of the work, because the majority of the work was inherently interactive and performative.   Instead of allowing the audience to fully interact with the art works, much of the work was displayed as artifacts from a piece of performance art.  Stagnant and often behind a layer of glass, the inventions were hard to understand and visualize.  To overcome this difficulty,  the curators overcompensated by bombarding the visitors with copious amounts of wall text and explanatory videos.  Even though many objects required explanation, the Museum of Modern Art should have stuck with its institutional character by allowing the pieces to stand-alone or with an interactive video.

Many of the objects within the show were witty, inspiring and truly innovative.    The exhibition included daily objects like an MTA subway card vending machine to beta prototypes of bank Automated Teller Machines.  Prayer Companion by the Interaction Research Studio at the University of London beamed current events to a group of cloistered nuns to provide them with material for daily prayer.  The Avatar Machine by Marc Owens allows the wearer to walk around with the perspective of their body from behind.  This is a common format in video games, which would create a truly out of body experience.

Things that the show chose to omit were the most baffling aspect of the “Talk to Me” exhibition.  Throughout the exhibition, there was no mention of social networking or an at length discussion of the Internet.  The show ignored the innovation of smartphones and the rising global impact of cellphone usage.   Also, the show ignored the politics associated with the innovations like open sourcing and the activism surrounding different interfaces of the Internet.  Even tongue and cheek video game displays like Gentrification Battlefield contained political undertones that were ignored by the copious mounts of wall text.

Despite the flaws that existed within the exhibition, it is extremely important for much of the art within the show to be institutionally recognized.  While the MoMA’s efforts were often a bit misguided, the existence of this exhibition is a step in the right direction for the museum to embrace alternative forms of digital media.

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Nira Pereg: 67 Bows

Nira Pereg brings political metaphor to the Hirshhorn Museum with her video 67 Bows.  The video presentation is located in the Black Box until November 13, 2011. The Israeli artists remains true to her documentarian roots with the haunting video.   Lacking a traditional narrative, the video reveals an interior of a flamingo sanctuary at a zoo in Germany.  The wide angled shots of flamingos contrast the audio of a gun cocking and firing a bullet.   Pereg edits the two elements together so the flamingo’s duck after the audio of the bullet. The contradiction between the beauty of the birds and the forcefulness of the audio imply multiple levels of violence.

With the flamingos metaphorically dodging bullets, Pereg questions the role of firearms in society.  Pereg handles this heavy-handed subject matter gracefully by enchanting the audience with the beauty of the flamingos.  At first glance, Pereg questions the hunter/prey relationship between humans and animals.  By filming the flamingos within the context of a zoo, Pereg questions the need for the animals to be protected.  In contrast to this notion, the reason zoos exist is to protect animals against human violence and the preservation of endangered species.

Pereg’s nationality provides an alternative avenue of interpretation, given the daily violence within Israel.  By anthropomorphizing the birds, Pereg invokes the human emotion of fear. The flamingos cower after the repetitive bullet noises.  The flamingos become a metaphor for the Israeli people. They live in a protected society, but still have to dodge bullets.

The strength of the video is the simplicity of the shots, the repetitive audio, and the looping images.  The messages behind the video become apparent by observing the video for a relatively short period of time.  The disparity of the audio and visual elements of the piece draws the viewer to watch the screen.  The beauty of the birds and a morbid sense of curiosity compel the viewer to keep watching.   Instead of repulsing the viewer, this video entices the viewer to observe and contemplate.

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