Sunday, July 17, 2005

Mass Moca

Friday I talked about Ann-Sofi Siden, the highlight of my Mass Moca visit. There are actually six different exhibitions up now at Mass Moca - it's a big place. Below are some thoughts on the four exhibits I spent time with.

Becoming Animal: Contemporary Art in the Animal Kingdom - Ann-Sofi Siden is only one of the thirteen artists included in this show. My other two favorite works were by Mark Dion and Motohiko Odani.

Dion's piece is a very large circular birdcage at the center of which stands an old leafless tree. All the limbs of the tree have been converted to bookshelves loaded with nature books and there are old framed photos of naturalists all over the trunk with books all round the base of the tree like Christmas presents. He's got more limbs hanging down like swingsets also loaded with books. Sawdust covers the floor of the whole thing. The best part is that the cage is filled with flying finches and you can walk in and stand there or sit on the bench provided. The finches flew all around and played. Dion had feeders all over. Lots of nice props to enjoy the birds.

Motohiko Odani had a strange beautiful sickly alluring video of a girl sitting in a tree singing a haunting cute la-la-la melody surrounded by all sorts of computer-generated nature freak activity. Ear-winged frogs hopping together in perfect circles, infinity flies, honey gloop driping from an orifice in the tree, lots of worms. The girl has yellow eyes, froggy fingers and toes, and a really sexy mouth and tongue but she looks both a little too young and a little too animal for the attraction not to feel dangerous. This short video can easily be watched several times and hearing the la-la-la song in the background while looking at someone else's piece is like a siren's song tempting you back to that more interesting mutant world.

Creature Discomfort - This is a nice collection of old works on paper from the Clark of monsters and mythical creatures - centaurs, Durer monster pigs, Breughel. One piece by Max Klinger of a fairy in a tree teasing a bear made me think of Fairy Butler and Sloth. The bear is a sloth bear (I used to work at a zoo). Nice companion show to Becoming Animal.

Cai Guo-Qiang: Inopportune - Cai Guo-Qiang has filled Mass Moca's great hall with nine Ford Taurus' flying through the space. There is something coming out of them that looks like fireworks. It's pretty and interesting when you first walk in but by the time I got to the end of the big hall the thrill had left. Another dead boring room is filled with what looks like stuffed tigers (actually paper mache) shot up with arrows. The strongest part of this show is seeing the car that was used in the making of a firework-exploding car video. He filled a car up with heavy duty fireworks - took out the seats, removed all the windows, cut a hole in the roof - and set them all off to make a video. The car is on display here and calls to mind terrorism and car bombings.

Life After Death: New Leipzig Paintings from the Rubell Family Collection - This was generally boring. The only piece I came to fully appreciate was one of David Schnell's pieces, Park, and I didn't like his other three at all. Park was his smallest - red twisty path, blue sky, washy conifers, brown in the sky. It didn't have any of that acid rust orange or the planks of his other three and seemed nicely unfinished. Corny had it right about the others - Dullsville.

I tried hard to get more into the Neo Rauch but just couldn't care too much. I did enjoy all the small hands and some of the relationships but it was too much the same all over, too flat, too claustrophobic, too drab; no place for me. These were not his newest which I understand to be better.


David Brickman on Becoming Animal.

Modern Kicks on his/her Mass Moca visit.


fairy butler said...

becoming animal and creature comforts sound like such good shows, thanks for drawing my attention. if only Mass Moca wasn't so far away!

Anonymous said...

"Romper", the Odani video (some stills here) was wild. I watched it several times, by turns fascinated and repulsed. Glad to hear you weren't too taken with the German paintings, either. And just to clear up any confusion: "his trip ".

Anonymous said...

MASS MoCA has posted all summer performing arts events @ www.massmoca.org - Good stuff!

Also, the new exhibit Ahistoric Occasion will be open May 27!

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