Wednesday, January 30, 2008
This weekend Peck School of Art and INOVA hosted a collaborative project with local artists called Siteline. The focus of the project was on mapping--its definitions and the expansion of drawing into "two and a half dimensions". The project was designed by Leslie Vansen in response to Deb Sokolow's The trouble with people you don't know exhibition at INOVA in the Kenilworth Building. Here are some images from the project. Thanks to my collaborators Nan and Donna!
Posted by RGolden at 2:56 PM
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
On a snowy afternoon in late December, a security guard in a pale blue uniform stood along the wall in an open space between Minimalist artworks by Donald Judd, Carl Andre, and Ellsworth Kelly.
I walked towards Untitled (1967) by Donald Judd. My sense of space shifted and for a moment the work extended over me. The silvery mass rolled out into the room--an immense piece of steel hovering above the ground.
The guard began to sing as I walked toward the painting, RED YELLOW BLUE III (1966) by Ellsworth Kelly. She sang: "this is propaganda, you know, you know" in a lovely, lilting voice. She concluded, "by Tino Sehgal 2002."
I felt the presence of Ellsworth Kelly's painting evaporate. The color disappeared--suddenly appropriated into another work of art. I stood close to the painting to feel the heat of Kelly's red square burning up the space around it, but nothing.
My stomach turned and my knees wobbled. I was suddenly thrust on stage--the art was no longer performing, I was. Every step now a strange dance with the gallery guard in a space suddenly made vacuous.
I tried to re-inscribe the Minimalist works in the gallery by moving slowly along the perimeter of Andre's Aisle (1981) hoping to elicit a "TOO CLOSE" response from the guard, but nothing.
By now the sun had gone down and the city just outside the museum had turned a deep, iridescent blue. I climbed the white stairway to the gallery where Sehgal's main work was to be displayed. The space was empty except for the wall tag announcing the title of the work: instead of allowing some thing to rise up to your face dancing bruce and dan and other things (2000). I puzzled with one of my friends, was this Sehgal's piece--the gallery represented?
We looked at each other for an instant, laughed and began dancing around the room, watching our reflections in glass windows opening out onto Hennepin Avenue. It was one of those childhood fantasies come true, a space at the Walker where we could finally run free.
The next afternoon I returned to Sehgal's "empty" room, but at the end of the gallery a woman crouched against the wall. My experience of the space was completely different. I cautiously crept into the gallery. I just stood quietly across from the figure that peered back at me, but I wanted to call out to her, "we are not here to hurt you!"
I read that Sehgal would not allow his works to be photographed, but in order to find out what was encompassed by his piece I began to photograph the gallery walls. I became interested in every mark on the walls, every scuff of a shoe. Was this part of the piece? I photographed the sludge melting on the floor left by someone's boot. No one confronted me about photographing the walls, and the figure at the end of the gallery remained still.
I walked back through the museum trying to find other pieces by Sehgal, but now everyone in the museum was part of the performance and every body an object contained within the museum.
We made our way to the gift shop and I opened up this book, Santiago Sierra: House in Mud. Inside were pictures of a gallery filled with dirt. The thick dark substance pushed against the white walls of the gallery, which struggled to contain the mess.
If "antagonism" is defined as the holding in conflict of two opposing views, how do we know its parameters? If "antagonism" is a condition of being in-between, how do we know when art neutralizes or provokes opposition? If "antagonism" describes one opposing element interfering with the action of the other, triggering an unpredicted event, how do we know what qualifies as unpredictable in a carefully orchestrated space?
As I recalled my experience of Tino Sehgal's piece later that evening, what stood out in my memory was the experience I had while standing in the threshold of the gallery: an older man and his wife stood beside me briefly and asked in a slightly annoyed tone, "Where is the art that Sandra Oh liked better than Frida Kahlo?"
"This is it," I said, and walked back down the white stairway.
I did not stay to see if they entered the room or turned around to walk out.
To see my accompanying images, go to mnartists.org
Posted by RGolden at 8:55 AM