Posts Tagged ‘Visual Arts’

With my ‘dangerous’ thinking  I’ve learned a few things:

One should never ask questions or openly have a thought that isn’t a banal description or a glowing review.

I should applaud everything, because clearly if it’s happening, it must be super awesome.

Since I was a grad student my opinion even backed with evidence is meaningless, because I clearly never had a life outside of grad school.

Grad school is a safe warm place much like a cocoon.

Since I went to grad school I have ‘institutional power’* and am in general pretentious.

I am clearly an old man since I am an art historian.

My MA in art history is an M.R.S degree and the key to marrying rich men.

I like art because it makes me feel above everyone else.

I play and write about video games therefore I cannot engage in discourse on art work.

Because I am obscure I cannot have critical thinking skills.

If I critique work done by a woman, I am sexist or anti-feminist. Since clearly, I am ‘the man.’

I am a woman. If I write with passion, I am too emotional to discuss an issue intellectually, therefore discrediting  my argument.

If I argue with another woman, we are having a cat-fight, making either side of our argument discredited.

I have the power to prevent people from succeeding and I keep them outside the art world.

I am wrong  even when people agree with everything I say.

Anything I say is always more rational when said by a man.

Anything I say is more respectable when said by someone who is known.

As a volunteer and unpaid blogger I can never understand a labour of love.

With all the money I have I sit around in my pajamas and write on my Mac Book Pro. (Strange that it says Acer Aspire 5536.  Pajamas?)

I should use backhanded compliments or esoteric writing to hide criticism; often people will believe it’s a glowing review.

It is wrong to demand that artists be paid for their work . Rather artists should pay to have their work shown or pay to have the opportunity for someone to consider showing their work.

It is wrong for art historians to believe that artists should be rewarded for their work.

Most people read rather than assume.

Things are fine  just the way they are. Afterall, we can’t hurt anyone’s feelings; that’s simply un-Canadian.

It is not my business to help anyone, since I clearly would never understand their situation even if I have experienced it myself.

It is these moments when I sit back and wonder…

*as a nerd I am hoping this is something like pally power (a bar the paladins receive in World of Warcraft to perform special attacks and heals). 

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Joshua Barndt
Jan 8th – Feb 6th 2010
XPACE Cultural Centre

Joshua Barndt - Limbo - 2010 (Installation shot from Barndt's website)

As I boldly stepped into the basement of XPACE I entered another world or environment created by Joshua Barndt. A new world at the end of the world, the limbo after an Apocalypse. Remnants of old cars buried in mounds soil, revealing convenient tiered spaces for wild gardens. Amongst these remains, Barndt planted wheat grass which grew in perfectly straight lines; seeming synthetic in their stiffness, but organic in actuality.  I witnessed one viewer who was unsure of the nature of the grass then, I gasped,  he pulled some of the grass out of the installation to further examine whether or not it was plastic or organic. Conversely, I asked a gallery attendant, though I did kneel and examined, with my eye, the grass trying to guess whether it was plastic or biological. Despite the viewer’s destruction, I should applaud Barndt for creating such a thoroughly illusionistic installation causing a viewer to have to pull apart the work to be convinced of its organic nature.*

Lights in the installation were strategically placed to provided limited illumination as well as energy for the grass to grow. The wheat grass was freshly planted, since I could still see the soil surrounding the individual blades of grass. I admittedly went and saw Limbo the first day it opened, which has constantly made me think back to exhibition and how it must look now. Did the grass survive? It is more lush? How does it smell now? Has the discarded trash vanished in a sea of green? I am imagining it growing (bad pun) and changing while I am away from it. I am always curious about how it will look from one day to the next and that is why I enjoyed this installation. Limbo is different every time a viewer visits it. Limbo is a rare installation that I wanted and encouraged others to visit more than once.

* As a general courtesy, one should never touch or move a work of art without the expressed permission of the Artist.  Not touching, while difficult, will save you and the Artist the anguish of damaging a work of art. If you are unsure whether it is appropriate to touch the work, ask the gallery attendant first.

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Static and Loss
Martin Kuchar and Andrew MacDonald
XPACE Cultural Centre
January 8th 2010 – February 6th 2010
58 Ossington Ave., Toronto

Bold, vibrant, colourful, unique and playful; these words struck me the moment I entered the Static and Loss exhibition by OCAD alumni, Martin Kuchar and Andrew MacDonald. Unlike many two person shows, Kuchar and MacDonald’s work flow together creating an immersive installation, blending the two artists’ work into one fluid concept. Kuchar presents a series of collaged paper works and MacDonald a series of knitted sculptures.

On the walls of the gallery are Martin Kuchar’s large paper based works resembling pixels. These pixel-like structures exhibit an obsession with the miniscule, which is then blown up to a monumental, but surprisingly intimate, scale. The collaged paper is spray painted and laboriously cut into angular shapes. On closer examination one can see that these works are comprised of hundreds of individual pieces painstakingly pinned and taped to the wall and assembled on location. Kuchar’s collage is constantly in motion, as each time it is assembled it will change, allowing for it to have endless variation. Kuchar’s interlocking Borgesian labyrinth at times resembles an intimate conversation with, in the case of Add Inches (2009), Tetris or, in Meltdown (2009), Space Invaders. Kuchar’s work exudes seriousness and commitment, but insinuates playfulness and the verisimilitude of chaos.

Andrew MacDonald’s sculptures are made from plastic household objects, a combination of found sweaters and manually-operated machine knit textiles created by the artist. The sculptures are a contrast of hard plastic forms and pillowing organic forms covered in knitted textile. Each sculpture has its own quirky personality, and each is connected through being both a tragedy and a comedy. For example, Heavy Hands (2008) resembles a stitched together monster that is bound by its exceptionally large hands, thin arms and tiny legs. I cannot help but laugh at Heavy Hands‘ out of proportion misfortune, but feel sadness for its crippling affliction. It is the hardness of modern sculpture, contrasted to the warmth of brightly coloured knitted skins, that create the juxtaposition of comedy and tragedy. MacDonald also presents a series of monochromatic works, including a wall hung abstracted knitted animal head, that I could not help but imagine how fantastic it would look in my home.

The combination of the two artists’ work is complimentary and visually dynamic. Kuchar’s large paper works create a static pixelated context for MacDonald’s sculptures. Static and Loss is a unique, humourous, but complex two person exhibition.

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