Hello again, it's Julian with another FECAL FACE DOT FORUM segment. Thanks everyone who read, commented and/or emailed me about the last post regarding Visual Culture and New Genre Art. Welcome all new readers! I apologize about the month passed, but I really want people to dig into this one so feel free to send any sort of input. This month is all about formalities of the exhibition and the art of showing art. I will once again share images that display exemplary work pertaining to the subject, feature one artist and ask that everyone join in on the conversation, comment, share thoughts and avoid anonymity!
If you see an image in this post that belongs to you please contact julian[at]fecalface.com
The gallery could be a number of different locations or spaces. White wall, projection, outdoor, museum or living room salon, certain formalities and considerations regarding the exhibition are important for validity. Validity to who? And why should I care? I'm speaking mainly of those concerned with exhibiting a professional and/or marketable collection of work. In other words, it is the curator's or sometimes artist's responsibility to ensure every aspect of their environment and presentation has been considered. On the other hand, developing contemporary standards for what an exhibition can be is always exciting as well. Take this with a grain of salt.
Who, what, when, where, are some basic concerns, which I have seen blundered in the past, but also deliberation of every physical aspect with regard to the look/feel and exhibiting of your work. In short, take responsibility for your show! Be prepared to answer questions, take criticisms, and talk about your work. "How is this exhibition going to affect every human sense?" is a good question to ask yourself, even if it seems irrelevant. What will be seen? What do you want the visual focus to be? What will everything look like including the art, floors, walls, windows, layout, and light? Also, does the finish of your work reflect the aesthetic of your show space? Look at your work from every angle for any possible "distractions". Is your work ready to hang? How will it feel? What is the temperature? Is the overall tactile feeling of your space and visual focus discomforting? Do you want that? What will your show sound like besides a crowd of people talking about your work (if you're lucky)? Music, DJs, bands - will these noises pertain to or enhance the look and feel of your show, or will it detract? Finally taste and smell - beer, wine, treats, aroma, do your pieces smell like fresh aerosol, polyurethanes or... shit? Now obviously some of these considerations may be out of your control or irrelevant, but I've walked into a gallery and seen everyone holding they're noses and watched a guy drop to the floor from huffing paint fumes, which makes photos of the show really great! I can see it now, New York Post cover "STUPID ART man dies".
With all things considered (thank you Robert Siegel), what else can we contemplate and what is our purpose for the exhibition? Obviously selling art is not always the point. Hey you could require a $10 "cover charge" to fund your next project or pay the ol studio rent... if you want the entire city hating on you. I can see how considerations mentioned above may not be crucial, but what is your show, event, installation, art parade etc. about? Do you know? Is it relevant to your actual intentions and will anyone care?
About once (maybe twice) a month around this great land of ours I walk into a gallery or show space completely saturated from floor to ceiling in junk. Dim lit shabby wood structures draped in patterned cloth with remnants of old Americana scattered everywhere. Sticks wrapped in string, felt, Christmas lights, feathers, beads, old pictures, unaltered found objects mashed together in piles with hundreds of pieces rendered in collage and ball point pen lining every available surface. On top of the clutter there is always some sort of accompanying aroma that is somewhere between thrift store, musty barn animals, leather and human sweat. Did I mention that the opening is from 7 to 3 AM (or whenever) and the ultimate bonus, 4 bands playing music that all sort of sound like Japanther or something with an accordion? Naturally in between bands there's someone spinning records of like the most crucial songs ever! I see your flyer that says "Art Show" or "FREE BOOZE!" (Thanks for those by the way). I read your artists statements. I see the prices, which I admit are extremely reasonable, but I'm definitely not spending 10 bucks on a drawing rendered in lipstick and napkin mounted on a shipping crate. Where's the quality control?
Is this an exhibition or a party? Hey, for me anything goes and I like to have fun, but with consideration these circuses are hardly "art exhibitions" unless all of the bells n' whistles somehow pertain to the theme... I guess. Will someone please continue this thought?
Artist Examples: David Ellis
Many of you are familiar with David Ellis' work. Interestingly enough I'm not really that into his paintings (so sue me) but they are brilliant none-the-less and of his 2d work I'm especially fond of the motion-captured pieces. So why did I choose David for my example in this segment? Because a) this article isn't about painting, and b) Because he assembled one of the best shows of 2008 at Roebling Hall; also one of the strongest solo exhibitions I have ever seen in New York.
As you enter the gallery there are rhythms audible from around every corner as if one of those really good paint bucket drummers is rocking out after freebasing a small pile of coke. The feeling is uncertain and exciting already. I remember having a similar sensation years back the first time I heard Vito Acconci's Shadow Boxer from the foyer at MOMA. You hear the impact of something hitting something, but don't know what it is until you round the corner and find a Vito boxing his own shadow on the wall. In the hall leading out of the foyer stands a contraption mounted on a desk contributing to the intermittent racket utilizing animatronics built into a typewriter that types, in rhythm, the song lyrics from Laurie Anderson's Oh Superman.
A variety of similarly animated sculptures played beats throughout accompanied by many new paintings and wall sculptures, but the real kicker was in the main room... a pile of garbage. As it stood in front of me silent and trite I thought, "Wow, what a fucking climax. Great work." All of the sudden! And I build it up because I almost pissed my pants, the pile of garbage started fucking jamming! I added the video below to try and illustrate this as well as possible, but it hardly does the ensemble justice (My little point-and-shoot camera only records for 30 seconds and sounds like shit, sorry). My guess is motion sensors triggered the start of it, but I could feel my toes-a-tapp'n as the pile of rubbish played some of the funkiest beats I've ever heard. Roberto Lange composed the number in collaboration with Ellis' installation titled Trash Talk. I use this as an example because it extrudes every aspect of my expectations as mentioned above. I would highly enjoy others sharing their positive show going experiences in the forum below, even if it includes some of the themes I find so irritating. -J
A better video from Davids site:
Written by Julian Duron. Email him: julian(at)fecalface.com