Ate my way across NYC yesterday, and looked at some art along the way…
A few highlights:
I had seen one of Cave’s soundsuits at the Seattle Art Museum in May, 2010. There it was displayed next to an El Anatsui tapestry, and while the two sculptural fibers works did create a lovely, lively dynamic, it was nothing compared to the displays of Cave’s works in these two Chelsea galleries. I swear I must have heard each person gasp as they walked into the enormous industrial, warehouse space in the Boone gallery. Cave’s larger-than-life soundsuits were positioned in a dense forest of these… creatures. Creatures? Made of twigs, crocheted patches, sequins, buttons, toy figurines… Unbelievably gorgeous, visually rich, and completely mind-blowing. Cave’s exhibition continued in the Shainman gallery, a few blocks’ walk from the Boone. Equally as stunning, and seemingly more sinister. (See these bunnies.) Here, the audience could view a video of performances that highlighted these soundsuits. I came to the realization that these intricately woven, sewn, and otherwise mysteriously adhered costumes are actually functional. The performers were dancing, prancing, whipping the soundsuits around, and somehow they held up despite the wear and tear. Nothing short of amazing.
New Museum – at 235 Bowery.
I had been meaning to see the New Museum for quite some time now and to put it bluntly, I was disappointed with this first visit. The building itself was interesting, but visitors were only allowed on the 4th (“Ostalgia” exhibition) and 7th floors (sky deck) due to the on-going installation of new shows on the other levels.
Drawing inspiration from the German word ostalgie (a term coined in the 1990s to describe “a sense of longing and nostalgia for the era before the collapse of the Communist Bloc”), this show was a compilation of the works of over fifty artists from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Republics. Perhaps it was my lack of understanding, or the museum’s lack of wall text explanation,* or the photographs’ inherently vague connections… But I believe this concept of ostalgie could have been taken so much further.
I did, however, enjoy Andrei Monastyrski’s Governor’s Island installation (“I DO NOT COMPLAIN ABOUT ANYTHING AND I ALMOST LIKE IT HERE, ALTHOUGH I HAVE NEVER BEEN HERE BEFORE AND KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THIS PLACE.”). A Russian translation of this statement reads on a red and white banner hung on an isolated location on the island, seen facing the State of Liberty.
* Hmm. Just found an “Extended Descriptions” PDF download on the New Museum’s website. Well, that would’ve been helpful had I known about it earlier…
This was an interesting project commemorating the tenth anniversary of September 11, but the space and manner in which it was displayed definitely did not do the piece justice. The artist had taken the remnants of her apartment (post-9/11) and sewn 3,136 pieces of found debris onto a billowing fabric that rises and falls like clouds of smoke, or a waterfall of paraphernalia.
I actually enjoyed del Rivero’s work quite a bit, but the problem was that I couldn’t get close enough to see it or experience it in full! As you can see from this image taken from the cafe area in the lobby of the first floor, the artwork was sandwiched awkwardly between the back wall and a glass wall. Viewers were forbidden from stepping into the narrow spaces along the sides of the fabric to get to what is, in my humble opinion, the very heart of the piece- the spaces underneath the billowing canopies created by the debris and fabric. I could only peer at the piece from outside the glass wall?? Even then, my view was totally skewed by the cafe tables and chairs! A poorly executed display space, impractical decisions all around.
And now for some photos…