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Archive for the ‘Exhibition’ Category

It’s little wonder we Americans are feeling small, despite our nation’s massive carbon footprint, enormous economy ($13.8 trillion GNP) and gargantuan military-industrial complex. There are still forces greater than we are. Consider the weather. Over the past five years California wild fires, severe droughts, Hurricane Katrina and regional floods have overpowered the government’s resources, decimated states and reduced vibrant neighborhoods to unlivable ruins.

That’s not all. Economic forces have sent us tumbling into a recession. Our homes are worth less than the mortgages we pay, our personal debt is rising, the price of oil has blown past $100 a barrel, job opportunities have diminished and the dollar has shrunk to half the size of the Euro. (more…)

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Earlier this spring, as we stepped off the elevator on the top floor of the Whitney Biennial, my company at the museum made the rather amusing but to my mind also very accurate observation that it all looked like “an open studio at an MFA program”. My friend was reacting against the lack of space to move around any one piece, to truly see it and attempt to take it in, without bumping into either people or other works of art. In all, visiting this biennial (as well as the 5 or 6 I’ve seen before this, I should add) is a rather stressful and uncomfortable experience; perhaps especially so for those of us who have the luxury to visit Chelsea weekly and often find ourselves to be the only visitor in a gallery at a time. What’s most annoying to me is that with all the clutter, movement and distracting chatter, it is impossible to establish a new relationship to an artist’s work that I have never seen before. That, it seems, should be one of the biennial’s most important purposes. As it is, it resembles a big, well-attended art fair, both in aesthetics and function, with the exception that sales staff is really hard to come by.

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From the first known map of the trading world (inscribed on a Babylonian clay tablet in 600 BC) to Abu Abd Allah Muhammad al-Idrisi’s 1154 world map, to National Geographic’s rendering of the earth’s ocean floor, cartographic representations have helped us imagine and navigate trade routes, political states, scientific discoveries and geographic territories.

Published maps have typically been the province of dominant cultures. But that is changing. Minority perspectives have exploded, supported by the latest technological developments, popular culture and commercial currents (see “La Frontera,” April 6). Many people—artists or not—have re-imagined their world by way of Google Earth, GPS technology, MapQuest, cell phones, and even their own five senses. (See This American Life.) (more…)

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…the Columbian artist Doris Salcedo’s “Shibboleth,” at the Tate Museum, London, through April 5th. It’s a 548-foot installation piece that divides the floor of the Tate’s Turbine Hall. According to the artist it, “represents borders, the experience of immigrants, the experience of segregation, the experience of racial hatred.” Can the viewer make all of these connections from a crack in the floor? I await first hand accounts. Also of interest is Salcedo’s 2003 site-specific installation of chairs, created for the 8th Istanbul Biennial. She is an artist whose projects speak powerfully to the separation from, or containment of, memory and history. It is interesting to compare the monumentality of her work to that of Richard Serra. Where Serra’s work feels threatening, dangerous yet magnetic, Salcedo‘s large-scale works have the resonance of poetry.

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