Sunday, September 6, 2009

Far Away So Close

The San Francisco LAB just closed their 25th-year-anniversary exhibition called PastForward, where they made an open call to young artists to respond to works of the established ones who came out of The LAB. The result seems to have been quite exciting - you can take a look at some pictures at this site (with some great jazz playing on the site - which unfortunately can't be turned off...).
My favorite work, especially given the distant perspective (I'm in Warsaw now) is the Viewing Platform by Ellen Babcock:

Perfect for any vernissage! (And after all, what would contemporary art be without the vernissages!) It plays with an essential trait of contemporary art: centrality. You are taller, you see further, and as if by chance you are hence appreciated. You become the spectacle. Very tiring indeed. And fun, if you forget the impossibility of an intimate contact with the remaining works. I know, the people become the work, and still...
I would love to create a portable version of this. Like a small podium with railings that you could carry around the opening (wheels?), or rent, or receive if you are a VIP guest. Or just have one of my own, though the most enjoyable part might be having several people on this higher level, among the crowds. And believe you me, at the exhibition openings of the main Warsaw art centers, it would come in handy.

Here is what the curatorial note says:
Ellen Babcock responds to Lauren Davies with a sculptural installation
that addresses Davies’ engagement with representations of the natural world. Based upon Babcock’s visit to a tiny museum in Twillingate, Newfoundland – a visit Davies herself had made prior to Babcock – the sculpture teases out the differences between the two artists’ approaches to the tropes of natural history display. Encountering a stuffed polar bear in the museum, Davies responded with a gently mocking mixture of humor and pathos meant to remind us of the absurdity of the way taxonomies simplify and freeze the fluid mysteries of life. Babcock, on the other hand, found the quasi-encounter visceral and beautiful. While she sees Davies as opening up a space for the Real in an iconoclastic rejection of the traditions of natural display, Babcock looks for vestiges of the Real in the moment of encounter when disbelief is suspended.