Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rina is the Bees'-knees-a

Thus far, there have been 4 exhibits that I have had a profound impact.

1. Vaudou/Voodoo at Foundation Cartier Cartier pour l'art contemporain

The exhibit featured over 100 West African Vodun sculptures from the collection of Anne and Jacques Kerchach. First off, the installation and curation were really powerful. Visitors descended an L shaped staircase. The staircase landing provided a locale outside of the primary exhibition for the supplementary text. In the statement, interestingly enough, the collectors preface the show by saying that there will be no captions (no dates, titles or artists), the reason being that it is the intention of the artist that is of primary importance. Well, I can't say that I fully agree. In someways it was a relief, it became less a historical accounting, it became the narrative of a tradition and a people instead of the characteristics of specific artists. The visual impact of the space was stronger ( which I will get into in a sec) but then again, I missed the formulation of a chronological development in the works (perhaps there was none). With that said, picture this. Descending the last half dozen stair for the landing, enter into a completely blacked out room. Before your are 48 identical vatrines on pedestals, layed in a grid. The vatrines are painted black as well but, with a slightly sparkly metalic black. Each vatrine and sculpture is spot-lit. This is the only source of light. Spectacular, dramatic. It definitely felt like a private collection, the size and variation of the works was not that different and there were a lot of pieces. I was though, specifically interested in the double figures and or double heads, the use of twine binding parts of the bodies that were of specific concern for the ailment or prayer.

2. Rina Banerjee at  Musee Guimet

Poetic, animalistic, delicate and a little fierce. She paired her works with poetry such as the following:

Greed, whence she came, she sucked all the world dry,
boneless, left with only earthly money, monsters and Maham...
but still the hunger want
was so intertwined with love that
morning forbidden gave new a green fruit
that could not truly ripen

3. Claude Calun at Jeu de Paume

Calun uses her own body and photography as tool to challenge gender identity and prescribed gender roles.

4. Hussein Chawlayan at Les Arts Decoratifs
Where to even begin with Chawlayan and Les Arts Decoratifs. This guy is a genius.  Chawlayan uses dress and clothing to comment on the effects of identity in a globalized world. He reaches far beyond haute couture. His works are politically and socially charged.  For example, Hussein did a collection in which he explores dual utility on a crash course with technology. Garments with an intricate hidden layer of mechanics that for instance, makes dresses get longer, hair grow, and scull caps turn into wide brimmed sun hats. Yes, all on the runway, all in a matter of seconds. He is probably most well known for sculpting tightly packed tule into bulbous dress and his wooden table that duals as a skirt. Check him out folks.

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