Overheard at the ICA
Post #1269 • January 5, 2009, 11:55 AM • 36 Comments
(Scene: At home. January 4, 2009.)
Yours Truly: This is the last day of the Tara Donovan show at the ICA. We should probably go and see it.
Supergirl: What kind of stuff is it?
YT: She builds installations using commonplace objects, like giant ceiling-hanging sculptures out of foam cups. It'll be fun.
cafeteria Water Café.)
SG: Well, we finally got a table. I can't believe it's so crowded. I was expecting a sleepy midwinter Sunday. There must be a hundred and fifty people in line to get into the museum.
YT: I had no idea. I think I'm calibrated to the Miami Art Museum, where you could go on a Sunday afternoon and it would just be you and the other three people who cared about art. And there would be no clam chowder. (eats)
SG: You'd think that with the downturn in the economy, spending on art would be one of the first things to go. I guess we should take the crowd as a positive financial indicator.
YT: The ICA's all privately funded, too - nothing comes from the city. They lease the land from a developer for a dollar a year. I'm going to buy us a dual membership. One of the things you're supposed to do as an artist is join the local museums, just for the sake of networking and knowing who's doing what, if nothing else.
SG: Would they ever show your work?
YT: It's hard to know. You'll see when we go upstairs.
(Scene: Upstairs. SG is reading wall text for Gerard Byrne.)
SG: He's blurring boundaries and juxtaposing things.
YT: Wow, really? I love it when artists juxtapose things. That's my favorite.
(Scene: ICA Collection show.)
SG (In front of Josiah McElheny): This is trippy.
YT: Huh? They have one of these up at the MFA right now. There was a mirror piece at the entrance too, remember? (reads wall label) Oh, he's from Boston.
SG: What is this over here?
YT: Marlene Dumas. She's having a big show at MoMA right now that traveled from Los Angeles. An absolutely wretched painter.
SG: Although, technically speaking, this is figurative painting, and it is here in the local contemporary museum.
YT: Where there's life, there's hope.
(Scene: Foster Prize exhibition. Video by Catherine D'Ignazio shows briskly edited shots of a woman walking down various hallways and exiting through various doors.)
SG: Oh, come on.
YT: Um... the message here is... I guess we're supposed to leave?
(Scene: Foster Prize exhibition, installation by Andrew Witkin.)
(Scene: Foster Prize exhibition, installation by Joe Zane.)
YT: Gee, the Foster Prize winners run the whole gamut of art, from installation to video installation.
SG: There were those Rania Matar photos.
YT: Feminism, Islam - she's got some nice hot topics to work with.
SG: Is all the work in this room made by the same person?
YT: Come out here.
(SG and YT exit to hallway overlooking the waterfront.)
SG: This is my favorite of everything we've seen so far.
YT: It's hard to beat.
(Scene: Beneath the Tara Donovan ceiling-hung foam cup sculpture.)
Young man (to friend): Wow, that must have taken a really long time to put together.
SG: We should do this to cover up the popcorn ceiling in the bedroom. Except we'll use Starbucks cups.
YT: That would be a bold statement about consumer culture.
SG: I'll take that grant now, thank you.
YT: If you look at who else won the MacArthur, you see scientists working on the most difficult problems known to man. Granted, any art is going to look pretty inconsequential in comparison, but still...
Little girl (to mother): Wow, that must have taken a really long time to put together.
YT: I keep thinking of how hard it must be to dust this.
(Looking at Tara Donovan Scotch tape installation.)
Old woman (to daughter): Wow, that must have taken a really long time to put together.
SG: So, when the exhibit is over, do they pick it up and transport it?
YT: No, she builds another one.
SG: How can this be in somebody's collection then?
Man (to wife): Wow, that must have taken a really long time to put together.
(Looking at Tara Donovan button sculpture.)
SG: Look, it's all buttons.
SG: That's cool. It's like corals, made out of buttons.
Man (to companion): Did you see this? It's all made out of buttons.
Companion: Wow, that must have taken a really long time to put together.
(Scene: ICA gift shop.)
YT: Ooh, a wobbly chess set!
SG: We're not buying that.
YT: Look, it's a Tara Donovan bowl made out of paper clips.
SG: You're wrong.
YT: And coasters made out of pebbles.
SG: I'm not really seeing anything I need here.
YT: I want that new collection of Fairfeild Porter essays but I think I get a bigger discount at the MFA.
(Scene: In the car on the way home.)
SG: The wall of folded Mylar looked nice, looking through it towards the water. The other way, it didn't work as well.
YT: I liked that one too. Her work is certainly likable.
SG: But it's not like a Rothko, which is simple but doesn't make me think I could go home and make one. There's an elegance to that. Whereas this stuff, I feel like I could get some plastic cups and go to town.
YT: They're labor-intensive and they produce a trippy sensation, because you can't tell how they were made until you look at them up close. Like the straw piece - up close, you get jillions of straws; from a distance, you get a big, snowy landscape. They justify a certain amount of staring. She's good at generating that gee-whiz effect, but the effect wears off after a while. As art it just seems insufficient somehow. I think installation has finally found its Arcimboldo.