Friday, January 08, 2010

Gallery Hopping with Ron Mwangaguhunga

On Wednesday I ventured out to an opening reception for Patti Smith and Steven Sebring's 'Objects of Life' exhibition in Chelsea. Seen in the crowd were Jonas Mekas, Albert Maysles, Sam Shepard, Calvin Klein, Jessica Lange, Michael Stipe, Zac Posen and Paper's magnificent Caroline Torem Craig. There was no booze.

There were, however, several installations in rooms clustered around themes. One room included personal objects. Another held thematically-linked compositions bearing a "cross" motif -- sword, angel with wings, the uterine Y-shaped cavity. She told The Wall Street Journal: "I’m always transforming work into art. I can buy a crucifix, photograph it and make it a piece of art but the original crucifix then becomes a sacred relic. Creating from art something just magnifies it.”

There were also video installations throughout the exhibit on computers on the floor. Another video installation involved Patti painting a television set. Next to that television set/art object was another television showing via tape Patti painting the set.

My favorite part of the installation was the room devoted to Rimbaud. Rimbaud was clealry a powerful influence the poet laureate of punk. Pages of Rimbaud's Une Saison en enfer (A Season in Hell) festoon one room, over a construction of a bed. A very punk bed. Another noteworthy drawing is of one of Rimbaud's poems in the shape the ritual of preparing absinthe. very clever. But it only reminded me that there was no booze at this event.

Moving right along.

Another note worthy art event: Thursday was the Allesio Delfiono opening reception "Metamorphosis" at Kips Gallery (also in Chelsea). There were video and print installations of female bodies caked in gold makeup in various stages of transformation. From the site:

"Metamorphoseis is the latest photographic sequence in which Delfino brings together the art of body painting, the concept of the Greek Pantheon and the ancient tradition of death masks to fully experience the lost sense of ancestral and charismatic femininity manifest in the individual expressiveness of bodies ... Delfino has produced various videos by editing these images in a metamorphic loop in which the bodies merge together in a never-ending continuum, surrounded by musical compositions created by the same artist. In this phase of the project, presented as a real work in progress, Delfino makes extensive use of the computer to retreat from the notion of pure photography in order to attain, through contamination with the cinema or a performance, additional levels of reinterpreting the body, its unique and multiple identity and its infinite complexity."

There was also a Diane Arbus/ William Eggleston Opening exhibition at Cheim & Read last night. The gallery was packed with an interesting crowd of collectors and gallery hoppers. The room, unfortunately, was very small -- not nearly large enough to get a good viewing and let the newcomers get a chance (maybe the best time to seriously look at art is not on opening reception day?). Eggleston’s photographs, particularly were astonishing. I am rather conservative about these things and generally don't regard photography as a serious art form (but as decorative an art as, say, fashion). Eggleston calls that notion into question with his richly ironic, almost gothicy photographs of the American south. He is very much at home paired with Arbus' "portraits of couples, children, middle-class families, carnival performers, nudists, transvestites, zealots, eccentrics and celebrities."

The week began, on Monday, with "The Obstacle is Tautology," a clever take on the spaces (and anti-spaces) of a modern office. The exhibition, on the parlor floor of 54 King Street looked -- at first glance -- to be an office. Only in an apartment (is it even a gallery?) and inluenced by the Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers. But as the Note on the Intentions states: "Acting as a fabricated situation, Front Desk Apparatus presents the re-arrangement of a particular construct. The interiority of the space is dependent upon props disrupting its linear composition. At the same time, this composition links paradoxically to the weathered exteriority of its shell. What should function as a residential dwelling does not. Rather, the primary application is that of an office; an office for work and the transmission of information and material." So now you know.

Alison Knowles, we cannot fail to note, gave an interesting, powerful and muted musical performance that afternoon of found and made objects playing the notes on an art object with musical notation made by random inkblots. Talk about experimental composition. Really interesting evening.

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