Monday, September 28, 2009

"Where's Al?"

Saw the MoMA show "Ron Arad: No Discipline" this afternoon with TH. Arad (Israeli, b. 1951) produces objects that aim to blur the boundaries between design, sculpture and architecture. Oh dear. I could not get IKEA out of my head when I saw the numerous chairs displayed on the shelves. There were ripple chairs, butterfly chairs, chairs made of stainless steel rods, carbon fiber armchairs, and chairs inside of another chair. I liked the monumental-looking one, scooped out of a huge twisting hunk of steel. The other favorite was "A Mortal Coil," which could conceivably function as a book case. The long sloping seat of "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie" looked like the back of a dog. Most of the objects looked like design to me, interesting designs, but still design.

I enjoyed the Conceptual Art show more than I thought I would. "In and Out of Amsterdam: Travels in Conceptual Art, 1960-1976" exhibited about 75 works by artists related to Amsterdam in one way or another. Dutch Jan Dibbets' "The Shortest Day" showed the view outside his window, in the form of eighty photographs, taken at 8 minute intervals on the day of winter solstice in 1970. I found the waxing and waning of the light incredibly lyrical and poignant. American Allen Ruppersberg's "Where's Al?" juxtaposed vivid photographs of his friends and index cards with snippets of dialogue all asking in different ways where he is.  The missing artist was also powerfully presented in a series of self-addressed envelopes sent to Hilton Hotels all over the world. Suriname-born Stanley Brouwn was represented by a piece titled something like "Dirt on Paper." The 10 or so pieces of paper showed shoe prints and other dirt marks. Ephemeral debris. The traces we leave behind. The youthful wit and humor of the works in dealing with permanent questions were very appealing.

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