...

.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Relativity


Relativity, originally uploaded by Bromirski.

Someone was kind enough to send me some photos of Relativity, the Anderson Gallery's current exhibition, featuring the work of four local artists (Jeannine Harkleroad, Chris Norris, Sun Tek Chung, James Davis) each paired with that of artists from the gallery's collection.

The galleries look good, as good as I've seen yet, but some aspects of the installation really bother me. The artwork of the four locals (all of whom work for VCU) is well-presented but that of artist's from the gallery's collection is mostly annoying and frustrating.

The picture above is of the work of James Davis paired with that of Jules Olitski. The three pieces on the wall belong to Davis; Olitski's prints are on the pedestals. Those pedestals are at least five feet high and covered with plexiglass. I'm six feet tall and except for the edges all I could see was glare. ANNOYING! I'm pretty sure that is not the way the artist intended for them to be presented. Here is what they supposedly look like, but although I've seen them for real I can't confirm that. Hey George, sometimes it is better to see things on the web!

There was a funny(?) moment at the opening when I was on the periphery of a circle admiring Davis' work (including the artist and Dean Richard Toscan) and Elizabeth King was introducing Davis and his work to a couple. She made a sweeping gesture with her arm saying something like "James did all these" which ended with her hand on the Olitski pedestals. I said those were by Jules Olitski and she looked a bit confused. I forget what we said next exactly but I did tell Toscan that I know Olitski's daughter. I was on his left and he continued to look straight ahead and sort of ignore me. Toscan looks like David Paymer to me, whenever I see him I think it's the mob guy from ABC's Line of Fire (it was set in Richmond!).

Almost as bad as the presentation of the Olitskis was the presentation of a photograph by Thomas Daniel, the artist whose work is juxtaposed with that of Sun Tek Chung. I say almost as bad because if you get on your knees and tilt your head to the side you are able to check out Daniel's photograph, whereas with the Olitskis you don't have a chance. Here it is.

At the recommendation of a more sensible artist friend I contacted the curator, Amy Hauft, for more insight into some of her presentation decisions and she wrote back explaining some of her ideas:

"In all cases with the works from the Anderson collection, I wanted to take them away from being exclusively images and force them into being "things". I did this with the Olitskis by presenting them on edge at eye level atop pedestals of their exact dimension. As mentioned in the handout, I wanted to highlight the iridescent ink that was more visually pronounced at that angle. In some ways, you could say that I was treating them the way that James Davis treats his materials. He maximizes what they are materially and then uses that materiality to create his imagery. As for the Daniel photo on the floor... certainly taking the image off the wall and leaning it against the wall turns it into more of an object. I am a sculptor and I always find power in object-ness. Because a thing is in the room with us, it is less ignorable, more undeniable. Part of it was a sense of numbers - that there were/are so many of them (the daughters)...they are waiting in the wings. Part of it is to indicate that its a working project, metaphorically rearrangeable to create other relationships."

I'm glad she wrote back and I get what she was trying to do, but I think the project fails. First of all, they were never "exclusively" images and have always been things; they don't need to be forced. The Olitski pieces now are not only no longer images but irrelevant. The "things" that James Davis' work is relating to are three five-foot-high reflective pedestals.

I'm also extremely disconcerted at the amount of curatorial liscence taken with the work. Why does the art serve the curator and not the curator serve the art? Amy Hauft is an artist herself and the creator of a fantastic installation at the Beaver College Art Gallery a few years ago but suppose a future curator were to reinstall her piece at ankle-level in a pitch-black room, or on a wall, and present it as a Hauft? What is a curator's responsibility to an artist's intention?

I'll post more about the individual artists later, I had to post about the presentation first.

RELATED: Hans Dieter Huber Artists as Curators - Curators as Artists?

18 comments:

J.T. Kirkland said...

Great post Martin. Interesting food for thought...

Anonymous said...

There is a difference between "the thing" and it's image, on the web or elsewhere.

What you saw was "the thing", an Olitski print, in a curatorial context you wouldn't accept. There is as much a relationship between Davis's paintings and the Olitski prints as there is between the Olitski prints and their images on the web.

I doubt, that in this context, one was expected to make a direct correlation between the artists. I suspect one was intended to contemplate the relationship between the two, of course this is a mental exercise in manipulating and comparing appearances. If we are just manipulating appearances, then just a working knowledge of Olitski's work would be sufficient to visualize "the look" and the glare could be ignored.

There is a difference between experiencing "the thing" and experiencing its image. It's like having sex or watching it on tape. Getting the idea is not as great as having the experience.

In my world, glare is real

George said...

I said that

anonymous 2 said...

Thank you for repeating yourself anonymous 1. You are very wise in your distinctions.

Corny said...

This seems to me to be a blatant instance of curatorial tresspass. Me thinks this curator has bloated cojones. She should put her name on the show as an artist colaborating with Olitsk.

rachael said...

Thanks for looking at that show, thinking it through, getting the curator's perspective and writing the whole thing up. I have the feeling that too many people simply walk out of a baffling show shaking their heads, think that dumb presentation is normal, or just don't care. My 2 cents is that artists or anyone while curating should only show work they respect as artwork and should show it accordingly. Interesting post! thanks!

Anonymous said...

As a VCU graduate, I can assure you that the unconventional arrangement of artworks is a VCU sculpture trope. i remember how baffled I was when Myron Helfgott insisted that an artwork was best presented high up near the cieling. The less traditional and more idiosyncratic the better. This formal choice reflects their favoring of installation over idividual and discreet artworks.

Anonymous said...

I too agree that a curator should serve the artist's work and not the other way around. At least not without the artist's permission. I was recently in a show where the curator slightly mishandled my work. I was still happy to be in the show. But I now know better and will include strict guidelines on how to show my pieces. Unless give my consent, my art objects will not be used as material for curitorial creativity. This attitude will have it's drawbacks I'm sure. Hence the anonimity.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to take a second to represent the other side for a moment... not because I always agree with it, but there is another side.

I've worked with galleries in the past and there will always be the belief that it's the artist's work, but their space. This relationship will always be in flux, just like any other relationship. The relationship with one landlord might be completely different than a relationship with another; thus some curators take extreme liberties, and others don't.

I agree with artist's integrity and I agree with representing your own work under prime conditions.... but it's your work, you're going to have many other people who will give you opportunities to present it how you like it, but it will always be their space and their gallery. Them's the breaks. If you want a space that will allow you to exercise more judgement, don't do shows that won't. I find that the whole notion of "paying dues" or the art of compromise is anathema to a lot of people who hate VCU... how do these people learn anything? You have to start somewhere, because we all know you weren't born great...

another anonymous said...

anonymous, I don't understand how what you are saying relates to the Olitski prints. Wasn't it in the permanent collection? Imagine Elizabeth King's reaction if a curator at a museum chose to screw up the arms and fingers of one of her sculptures into new and exciting contortions. Maybe that wouldn't be considered respectful. There seems to be a movement to allow curators and artists to dip into permanent collections to inform content through context. This is always fascinating to me, but it does bring up questions about artist's intent and how to respect those intentions. And by the way? What does that have to do with hating VCU? I don't get what you are talking about.

another anonymous said...

Not a movement but lots of instances.

Martin said...

I don't get what that anonymous was talking about either. The other side makes no sense.

What is the paying dues thing about? Does he/she know Jules Olitski is in his eighties?

George said...

As noted, I would suspect that the main focus here was to present the younger artists in a context. As long as you could properly see James Davis's paintings a little glare on the Olitski's was inconsequential as there is little connection between the two artists.

Unfortunately I didn't see the show, I responded initially to Martins remark sometimes it is better to see things on the web! All I can say is pixels are not paint, glare and all it's always better in the flesh.

friend of Anaba said...

Martin, why do you stay in Richmond? Richard Toscan and the rest of them seem hostile to you. the whole Richmond art scene revolves around the university. If you are not a friend of the school then you are on the outs in tiny petty Richmond. You seem like a smart guy and a really good painter. Don't you think your talents would be better served in New York or another larger, more vital city?

Martin said...

Friend - I stayed in Richmond because I have a great job as a whitewater rafting guide on the James River. It is too much fun.

friend of Anaba said...

okay! I know it is none of my business, but I would love to see you writing about art in New York.

Whitney Lynn said...

Mark Harris taught an interesting "Artist as Curator" course while at VCU. The intention was to expose the ability for curators to create art soley through the arrangement and contextualization of other artists' work. Curators have specific visions for the ideas they want to convey through a show and it is at their discretion to use work accordingly. Ultimately this is beneficial for all - the artist, the curator and the viewer - because it allows work to be seen in a new context and shakes up preconceived notions of 'correct' installation (which are driven primarily by the market and salability..).

look said...

anime, animme, 徵信, 徵信社, 外遇, 徵信, 徵信社, 外遇, 情趣用品, 情趣用品, 免費a片, a片, 免費av, 色情影片, 情色, 情色網, 色情網站, 色情, 成人網, 成人圖片, 成人影片, 18成人, av, av女優,, 情慾, 走光, 做愛, sex, H漫, 免費a片, a片, 免費av, 色情影片, 情色, 情色網, 色情網站, 色情, 成人網, 成人圖片, 成人影片, 18成人, av, av女優,, 情慾, 走光, 做愛, sex, H漫, a片, 離婚, 抓姦, 外遇蒐證, 外遇抓姦, 外遇, 侵權, 仿冒, 應收帳款, 工商徵信, 美姬情趣網, 情趣風情, 中部人情趣網, 台北情趣用品, 情人節禮物, 成人情趣用品, 一夜情趣用品情趣, 情境坊歡愉用品, 情人視訊網, 美姬成人用品, 情人花束, 按摩棒, 情人歡愉用品, 成人視訊, 交友愛情用品館, 視訊交友, 情人視訊網, 成人視訊交友, 情趣交友, 美姬用品專賣, 高雄轉角, 情趣用品, 情趣用品, 辣妹視訊, 情色論壇, 情惑用品性易購, 紅煙論壇, 高雄轉角, 情趣用品, 性感睡衣, 免費視訊聊天, 視訊交友網, 美姬圖影, 紅煙論壇, 交友聊天室, 海角七號, 美姬圖影, 紅煙論壇, 成人視訊交友, 上班族聊天室, 情人節禮物, 高雄轉角, 情趣用品, 同志聊天室情書, 聊天室交友, 中部人聊天室, 情惑用品, 性易購, 紅煙論壇, 高雄轉角, 情趣用品,