Friday, July 13, 2007

A gallery visit that made me think

Marina Abramovic; Role Exchange; 1975; published in 1994; 2 black and white photographs with 1 letter press text panel. 3 AP's framed: 29 3/4 x 39 1/2 inches; framed text:10 1/4 x 7 1/4

Themed sims or simulations around a particular theme abound in Second Life at this point in time. They combine elements of art and roleplay. The participant will need to enter an environment where the participant will play the role of the character s(he) dons and then interact with the themed situation in an appropriate manner. I have not been into one, but I hear that they are a lot of fun.

Role playing has been around/functional since time immemorial. I am sure this was a evolutionary trait refined and developed to ensure that the right functional aspects of a personality are utilized efficiently at the right times to ensure our survival as a social species. Sometimes we don the roles unconsciously and sometimes of our own volition. While the former may be part of the everyday life we lead (roles such as mother, father, manager, husband, wife etc), the latter is indulged for the purposes of make-believe by people who would like to indulge and live out in their own private fantasies.

Artists, given their creative nature have experimented a lot with roleplay. Marcel Duchamp explored the possibilities with Rrose Sélavy in 1921. It was with a lot of hopes and expectation that I approached the exhibition at Sean Kelly yesterday to look at some of these artistic explorations (the exhibition winds down on August 03). Fortunately, I was not disappointed in the least. In fact I came away from the show thoroughly stimulated and made it a point to tell the gallery managers on the selection and groupings of the works included in this excellent exhibition.

Themed around a point in time when the performance artist Marina Abramovic (see above) exchanges her artist roles with a prostitute in Amsterdam in the mid 70's, the show does not disappoint. Abramovic strutted her wares at the prostitute’s booth for four hours while the real prostitute went to an opening reception of the real artist. The idea is both revelatory and exploratory.

Most of the pieces in this show are of a similar nature where artists are trying to explore the issues of identity and self through assuming other roles and genders (in some cases fictional identities). Among the greatest hits at this exhibition that I wholeheartedly urge you to attend are pictured below (the pictures have been ripped from the gallery website or from public websites):

The pictures below are but a minor selection from the 27 artists on display there. A fascinating exploration that will leave you thinking a little more deeply into the roles we play (and do not / ought not) over the courses of our everyday lives.

My only wish was they had included some paintings, but I am not complaining.

Douglas Gordon; Staying Out and Going Home; 2005; two Polaroid photographsframed: 8 1/2 x 14 1/2 inches (21.6 x 36.8 cm)

Yinka Shinibare; Dorian Gray; 2001; 11 black and white resin prints, 1 digital lambda print; each print: 30 x 37 1/2 inches, overall: 130 x 175 inches

Andy Warhol; Self Portrait in Drag; 1981; Polaroid photograph

Samuel Fosso; The liberated american woman of the 70's; 1997C-print on Aluminum; Framed 51 X 51 inches

Douglas Gordon; Monster in the Making; 1995; 6 minute color video

Gavin Turk; Bum; 1998; Wax mixed with resin and polyester; 65 X 27 X 27 inches


Tree said...

This does look very interesting. Were there any Cindy Sherman works?

Sunil said...

There were 4 Cindy Sherman prints and all of them were very good.