Saturday, March 16, 2013

New Museum: "NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star"

From the New Museum press release: "Centering on 1993, the exhibition is conceived as a time capsule, an experiment in collective memory that attempts to capture a specific moment at the intersection of art, pop culture, and politics."  One of my early favorite art exhibitions focusing on the 1990s was the 2000 exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Passages from the 90's.  It was difficult not to compare that viewing experience 13 years ago with this one. Overall, I walked out of the New Museum fully convinced that 1993 was a very good year for contemporary art.

JR with Charles Ray's Family Romance 

All hail the New Museum for allowing flash free photography! Even the guards were happy to take photographs of people posing in front of the art. My only complaint is the sheer amount of people in the galleries that made a personal viewing experience nearly impossible (my fault for seeing it on Saturday). I was surprised at the scale of Charles Ray's sculpture above as I had always presumed it was my height. The intermediary in between adult and child size made it even more disturbing. Needless to say, it was a popular photo opp for nearly everyone with a smart phone.

Felix Gonzalez Torres on the 4th floor

This was my first time seeing Torres' billboard installed in a gallery rather than a reproduction. I even liked the orange rug (gasp) by Rudolf Stingel. Hearing Kristin Oppenheim's Sail on Sailor was chilling especially in the context of all the AIDS related work that was produced at the time (and installed on this floor).

Felix Gonzalez Torres detail

Janine Antoni's Lick and Lather

With a couple exceptions, the installation of NYC: 1993 was very successful. I was enamored with photographing nearly every bust in Janine Antoni's Lick and Lather. I will spare you images of each one but these were the two most haunting erasures of identity in both soap and chocolate.

Janine Antoni's Lick and Lather

Janine Antoni's Lick and Lather

Robert Gober's Prison Window

I could write an essay on why this is one of my favorite artworks (and someday I hope to do so). However, the installation of Prison Window at the New Museum was less than desirable. Tucked in a corner at the base of a staircase, with Rudolf Stingel's orange rug bouncing off the white walls, I was less than likely to spend any time with it. When I first encountered this installation at CAMH, the viewer walked into a room constructed solely for the artwork. A small passageway into the piece indicated that you could easily be inside of a prison. Certainly not the case at the New Museum.

Jack Pierson's Stay

I knew this sculpture first and foremost as a postcard in 1999. In my mind, it is only viewed on or over a doorway so this was a perfect encounter.

David Hammons, In the Hood

I am drawn to Hammons' acerbic wit and look forward to viewing any piece by him wherever I go. The cut sweat shirt resembled a beheading with its references to racial tension.

A self-portrait reflection in Glenn Ligon's text reinterpretation of Robert Mapplethorpe's controversial photographs.

There were many other works NYC: 1993 that I was thrilled to see: Paul McCarthy's Cultural Gothic, the text piece by Sean Landers, burned books from Ann Hamilton's tropos, and Steven Pippen's pinhole photographs exposed and developed in train toilets. It was also eye opening in terms of thinking how many of the artists were dead or were no longer making work that is regularly seen in the public eye. This exhibition and Jay DeFeo's retrospective at the Whitney were the museum highlights of the Winter Break Part 2 (AKA "spring break") whirlwind visit.

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