Saratonin:art:blog


After Nature
August 30, 2008, 1:51 am
Filed under: Art, Installation, Sculpture

The New Museum
235 Bowery, New York, NY

I recently payed a long past due visit to the New Museum (its been a few years).  The current show was “After Nature,” and it was full of many intriguing pieces, though I was particularly interested in two bodies of work:

The first was Paweł Althamer’s sculptures, which he created from grass, hemp fiber, animal intestine, wax, and hair.  The characters’ bodies looked as if they had been decaying for years, yet they held video cameras, and wore glasses.  All of the figures were nude, and several were self portraits of the artist.  These sculptures brought together the archaic and the modern; putting everyday life in perspective of the entirety of time, calling to question our everyday activities, and reminding us that we too someday will be ancient history.

The second piece that caught my attention was Maurizio Cattelan’s, Untitled, 2007, which consisted of taxidermied horse skin, and fiberglass resin. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time when I saw this.  The way the horse is positioned, high above the viewer with its head seemingly through the wall, makes one wonder what kind of violent force could have put it there.  Yet its positioning is very out of the ordinary. Rather than mounting the animal’s head on the wall, as many hunters do with game they kill, the artist mounted the body instead. Because horses are such large, domestic animals, it is odd to mount one at all, let alone with the head missing and the body dangling out of the wall; the result is sadistically hilarious.



Waterfalls
August 26, 2008, 4:45 am
Filed under: Installation

Waterfalls
Olafur Eliasson

This controversial public art project is one I see on a regular basis, as I work In DUMBO (and acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, which I was standing on to take this picture). I am normally a huge fan of public art in general; however I have my doubts as to how well Eliasson’s (theoretically great) idea was executed, especially considering the price tag ($15 million).

When I first saw the Waterfalls, I couldn’t get over how incredibly industrial-looking, and LARGE, the supporting structures were. Though admittedly one can get a good view of the waterfalls from the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges (and probably from the ferry boats), those on the shore are left staring at a large metal frame, getting lightly salted with a mist of questionable East River water, which The Brooklyn Paper accuses of killing nearby trees.

However, I do admit I enjoyed my trip across the bridge to see them; and no doubt they are helping local businesses by attracting more tourists.



Carny
August 1, 2008, 4:03 am
Filed under: Art, Photography

Virginia Lee Hunter
July 3rd – August 14th, 2008
Umbrage
111 Front Street, #208, DUMBO, Brooklyn, NY

This small solo show by Virginia Lee Hunter depicting portraits of Carny life. She focused on the individual as well as the whole, and included a wide variety of characters, including performers, construction laborers, and carnival-goers. The images were as colorful as the characters depicted.



Burt Barr
August 1, 2008, 3:22 am
Filed under: Art, Installation, Photography, Video

Burt Barr
June 12th – July 25th, 2008
Sikkema Jenkins & Co.
530 W. 22nd Street New York, NY

“For this exhibition Burt Barr returns to his guiding premise, “that black & white are the only two colors I’ll ever need.” A believer of the single take – no matter its length – Barr’s work is the antithesis of most modern day film and video. All works were shot by Barr and mastered by his longtime editor, Steve Hamilton. The videos are all projected directly on the wall and looped for continual viewing. Using bare necessities to convey movement they hang much as paintings or, more appropriately, black and white photographs (press release).”

Though all of the pieces were intriguing, I gravitated towards ‘Donkey and Lightning,’ a two video installation piece in the back of the gallery. One wall displayed an ambiguous, darkened image of a donkey, which occasionally becomes illuminated. The opposing wall displayed a blank night sky, with occasional flashes of lightning. When the lightning flashed, the donkey image became illuminated.

It takes a few minutes to figure out what is going on in this piece. A viewer cannot see both videos at once due to the setup of the room. Looking at the image of the donkey, one would have to wait for it to become illuminated to discern what it is. Looking at the donkey while it is illuminated, one would not be able to see the lightning flash on the wall behind them. Only by watching the videos separately can one determine the relationship between the two. In this way, two simple videos, when combined, become synchronized in an installation that tests one’s awareness.