Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Gallery viewing

We've been hitting the galleries in Chelsea again. September marks the start of the season, and for a change there was some really interesting work, if one hesitates to call it "art." Above and below are some works by the South Korean artist Airan Kang at the Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery. Naturally, the colored lights drew our attention, but even more so the reference to Kant's "Critique of Judgment" in the "pile of books" at the front of the gallery. Who said these old white guys don't have any relevance?

I always love reading the press releases, "propaganda," as Rick refers to them. The curators of these exhibits always outdo themselves with pomobabble. Here is a description of Kang's book-shaped sculptures fashioned from resin and LEDs: "For nearly a decade she has been both personifying and objectifying discourse and our concepts of knowledge by simulating libraries, bookstores, and reading rooms. ... This exhibition conflates material and ephemeral depictions of knowledge to realize the pluralistic space of our imagination." Got that?

Goethe, of course, was represented. I would have been surprised had he been omitted.

I suppose what is most impressive about some of these works is the amount of craftsmanship involved, for instance, in the exhibition of stainless steel sculptures -- "Real Fakes" -- by the Chinese artist Liao Yibai. But to what purpose all this craft?

These works seem to prompt us to be "knowing," to be on the game, to see that we are manipulated by beautiful material goods. According to the propaganda, the exhibition "questions the skewed concept of value on a variety of levels. The oversized lavished sculptures of watches, rings, handbags, and high heel shoes confront the multitudes of popular brands and logos and their overwhelming presence in today's society. Yibai's newest body of work examines this increasing obsession with opulence and luxury goods while glorifying and laughing at it simultaneously."

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