One of the thoughts that kept running through my mind as I explored the exhibition at the Guggenheim: why do I find the written blurbs accompanying each art piece, more compelling than many of the art works themselves? Perhaps when it comes to art which serves to promote social justice, the focus IS meant to be on the actual subject matter it is attempting to bring attention to. The art work is merely a vehicle and a platform, an expression of the intention of the artist. Throughout the exhibition, I preferred art works which took the art out into the public, onto the streets, where it interacted with passersby, and forced people to think or do a double take.
For this reason I found the sculpture by Ivan Navarro, “Homeless Lamp, the Juice Sucker,” where he created a shopping cart made from white fluorescent tubing, particularly arresting. In 2005, the artist, pushed this cart through the streets of Chelsea, searching for public sources of electrical power. A powerful way of bringing attention to the matter, as we are all familiar with the image of homeless men and women wandering NYC streets pushing all their worldly belongings around in a shopping trolley.
This form of artistic protest reminded me much of Guatemalan artist, Regina Jose Galindo, who walked around the Congress of Guatemala building in 2003, dipping her bare feet in a white basin full of human blood as a protest against Guatemala’s former dictator becoming the president. As I mentioned in our class discussion, these two artists had similar intentions when taking their art out into the streets, but in the case of Regina’s work, the tone and theme is so, so much darker.
This, too, was a work of art, taken out into the public space, forcing non-art-appreciators, simple passersby, to stop, look, think. Isn’t that what art should be about? (I don’t want to say art ‘should’ be about anything, at the same time, art should be whatever an artist wishes to make it, whether he or she takes it out to the public or keeps it locked up in a room for nobody to ever witness) Art shouldn’t be simply restricted to those who intentionally go to the Guggenheim, buy a ticket, and choose to ‘see’ art? Are we not then preaching to the somewhat, converted? One of the artists at the Guggenheim also suggested the consumerism behind the visiting of museums. Ironic, seeing as he was housed in the same sort of exhibition 🙂 I can’t remember his name, but it was the artist who projected the squares of light onto the walls.
Another thought I kept having was, art seems to lose a lot of its value when it is housed in a sterile environment of a museum exhibition, I find. The exhibition felt like a display, rather than a live exhibit, one emitting energy and experience and dynamism. I would love to explore: how does one curate an art exhibition that is ‘alive’ and breathing? i recently went to Photoville, a photography exhibition, housed in numerous shipping containers, out on Brooklyn Bridge park. This exhibition emitted energy, somehow… it was an ‘experience’ for me, and I enjoyed simply wondering through the arena, taking in the atmosphere, the photos, the people.
From the Guggenheim: I also really loved Runo Lagomarsino’s piece, ContraTiempos, where he found shapes that resembled the silhouette of South America in the cracks of the concrete sidewalk.
He saw the concrete fissures as a metaphor for the flaws in the modernist project as a whole. I loved this idea of seeing metaphors through something as easily ignored as a sidewalk. I wanted to share some photos I took recently, for a Visual Storytelling class I am taking with Shari Kessler. They can be viewed here.