Posts Tagged ‘Guggenheim’

How’s it Hanging?

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Maurizio Cattelan: "All" at the Guggenheim

All, the Maurizio Cattelan retrospective at the Guggenheim, opened last night.*  In All, Cattelan’s sculptures, photos, and recreated performances are suspended from an impressive rigging apparatus above the rotunda.  All reminds me of Dorothy’s tornado hallucinations in The Wizard of Oz or Tom Cruise suspended in Mission Impossible.

Maurizio Cattelan: "All" at the Guggenheim

More absurd would be footage of animals being rescued from floods, hoisted by helicopters and carried off and away from the disaster.  And much darker than these, one might recall the hideous images of burned, mutilated Americans hanging from a bridge in Fallujah.

Maurizio Cattelan: "All" at the Guggenheim

This isn’t the only morbid  coincidence relating Maurizio Cattelan’s comic oeuvre with the real world.  Novecento/ Ballad for Trotsky, 1996, the hanging horse, could be replaced by the carriage horse that died two weeks ago in midtown, an inevitable casualty of an inhumane tourist gimmick that profits from overworking animals in inclement conditions.  Now we can zoom in on Cattelan’s Bidibidobidiboo, 1996, a.k.a. the “Squirrel Suicide,” hanging nearby.

Maurizio Cattelan: "All" at the Guggenheim

Maurizio Cattelan: "All" at the Guggenheim

And at the top of Cattelan’s super mobile are Cattelan’s upside-down NYPD officers, only feet away from a male mannequin duct-taped to a wall, and yards away from Cattelan’s iconic, supplicant Hitler, Him, 2001.  It’s a timely alignment for this tumultuous autumn, during which many Facebook walls scroll images and videos of police across the country beating Occupy protestors – most recently and notoriously the reckless Oakland cop who lobbed an explosive device directly at protestors aiding the critically injured Scott Olsen.  “Thugs!” some viewers gasp. “Nazis!”

Maurizio Cattelan: "All" at the Guggenheim

Then again, that duct-taped mannequin is a recreation of A Perfect Day, 1999, for which Cattelan taped up dealer Massimo de Carlo in his Milan gallery for a day.  Given that de Carlo would be among the 1%, the piece begins to look different.  Isn’t this what we’d like to do to a Wall Street CEO?  Hanging beneath that is the blown up newspaper photo of Italian Prime Minister Aldo Mori, who was murdered by  the Red Brigades in 1978.  Here, Cattelan has scribbled over the photo, converting the Communist emblem star over Mori’s head into a shooting Star of Bethlehem.  Cattelan seems to address violent disorder from all sides of power relations; Left and Right, Above and Below.  Just ask his mannequin of Pope John Paul in La Nona Ora, toppled by a stray (or carefully aimed) meteorite (Straight Outta Bethlehem?).  Cattelan’s multilateral criticism is often lightened by humor, yet it’s poignant when pointed.  Perhaps this democratic awareness is behind the title of his retrospective.

Maurizio Cattelan at his Guggenheim Opening

Maurizio Cattelan: "All" at the Guggenheim

"Come at me, bro!"

Maurizio Cattelan: "All" at the Guggenheim

Maurizio Cattelan: "All" at the Guggenheim

*Thank you, Cindy, for the invitation!

Air Rights

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Jaime Isenstein in "One Minute More" at The Kitchen

From the Gugg: “He considers visual art to be a microcosm of our economic reality, as both center on identical conditions: the production of goods and their subsequent circulation.” Is that accurate? What kind of goods? I always thought the economy operates on mass manufacturing, while art is commonly a distinct one-of-a-kind. Art is more like luxury goods, right? And that’s not really a microcosm of anything, just a mirror of excess wealth. I think McDonald’s burgers or Chevy trucks would be more of a microcosm.
“Sehgal seeks to reconfigure these conditions by producing meaning and value through a transformation of actions rather than solid materials.” Sort of like how you pay a hooker for a blowjob, rather than his/her lips. You can buy lips at the adult video store.

As of tomorrow, Friday, Guggenheim visitors will find a museum stripped bare by a bachelor.  33-year-old Tino Sehgal, younger than jesus, will take over the museum by emptying the walls and halls of artwork, staging two TBA performances, and subsidizing visiting crowds with 200 stooges hired to mingle with the tourists.  UPDATE: The NYT says he is 34.  My bad!

This show can be best understood through its influences.  He is a young artist, after all.  So art lovers seize the opportunity to list the inventory of gestures and exhibitions built around an empty space.  Artist Matthew Weinstein says on JSF (Jerry Saltz’ Facebook page), “nothing going on here is more radical then a sol lewitt drawing diagram, duchamp’s paris air ampule, and the entire career of john cage. and that’s fine. he’s working within a well established tradition, and adding to it.”

Magnus von Plessen at Gladstone

Saltz himself identified Gabriel Orozco’s Yogurt Cups, now at MoMA, as “an homage to the Empty Gallery as Work of Art.”  A few years ago, Ralph Rugoff curated A Brief History of Invisible Art.  Months ago, Adriana Lara appropriated the New Museum’s opening hours as her entry in its Younger than Jesus survey, as well as the daily ingestion of a banana by a museum guard, who would then leave the empty peel on the shiny floor.  In 2007, Urs Fischer excavated a giant pit from the poured concrete floor of Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, literally ripping GBE a new hole.  Months before that, Terence Koh exhibited at the Whitney Museum a near empty gallery, occupied only by a charcoal-colored sphere and a Klieg light.  In 2003, Trisha Donnelly released I Am Taking Your Morning, a CD recording in which she describes how she steals every aspect of your morning: your bed, coffee, newspaper, cigarette break, etc.  In 2001, Simparch built a skate bowl at Deitch Projects, leaving the content of the show up to the skaters who made use of the space.  Since 1991, Rudolf Stingel has done show after show in New York of near-empty galleries.  You can find more examples of emptiness in each of the last few decades.

(detail)

So it isn’t new to vacate a gallery.  But then isn’t it ironic how a show that owes so much to art history is banishing the tokens of that history?  We can best explain Tino Sehgal by invoking his ancestors in the brinksmanship legacy of dematerialization and relational aesthetics.  That tale had been reported by DIA, but then muted, when DIA went so Minimalist that it closed shop!  Yet Sehgal’s response to inherited art history is to wipe the walls clean, deforming the Guggenheim into one circuitous tabula rasa.

No, no! We said "Rasa"

This is poignant – or not – when compared to other negations of exhibition.  The Met had to withdraw Picasso’s The Actor after a woman ran into it (literally ripping Picasso a new hole, ha ha).  Worse, the Met is hiding its depictions of Muhammad and deleting “Islamic” from the “Islamic Galleries.”  (Read David Shapiro’s razor-sharp response at Muse.)  If the Met can’t defend itself against clumsy visitors, at least it can try to avoid pissing off bloodthirsty Muslim extremists.  At the Met, art is concealed under duress and fear; for Tino Sehgal, it’s the anti-exhibition basis of an exhibition.  Rigorous?  Or decadent?

The empty museum isn’t the goal of the show, it’s just the means to the real goal, which is the interaction of the visitors with each other and with the space.  “Sehgal seeks to reconfigure these conditions by producing meaning and value through a transformation of actions rather than solid materials,” says the Museum.  But is that a myopic view?  Hysterical?  Art has often been exchanged as anticipated action instead of material.  Again, Sol LeWitt wall drawings…  Or an advance payment for a commissioned portrait of some old Queen or other.  How about Momus’ Stars Forever album, whereby interested parties paid Momus $1,000 to write a song about them?  Jeff Koons did, and he paid not for the song itself, but for the service of creating a song.  (And it’s a great one.)

Breakfast of Chomp-ions

From the Gugg: “a visitor is no longer only a passive spectator, but one who bears a responsibility to shape and at times to even contribute to the actual realization of the piece. The work may ask visitors what they think, but, more importantly, it underscores an individual’s own agency in the museum environment.”  In other words, we won’t have to stand there all day looking at some crusty old painting, or cumbersome sculpture made by some dead guy.  We will be the art! Us!  I’d better order some teeth whitener!

Spencer Tunick

After all, people are more valuable than art.  That’s why I’ll hang in a museum when I’m dead, and my bedroom will be Landmarked, like Benjamin Franklin’s phantom house by Robert Venturi.  Guggenheim also says that Tino Sehgal “considers visual art to be a microcosm of our economic reality, as both center on identical conditions: the production of goods and their subsequent circulation.” Is that accurate? What kind of goods? I am no Ben Bernanke, but I always thought the mercantile economy operates on mass manufacturing, while art is commonly a distinct one-of-a-kind. Art is more like luxury goods, right? And that’s not really a microcosm of anything, just a mirror of conspicuous consumption. I think McDonald’s burgers or Chevy trucks would be more of a microcosm.  -The End.

Robert Venturi

UPDATE 02-10-2010: I finally saw the show. It was incredible! I plan to post something later this week about my trip.