9.30.2009

marilyn.

monday night, in the midst of U.turn's preparations for our first show, i took a break to attend a preview evening at the Contemporary Arts Center. It was oddly not directly intended for the press at large, but rather for bloggers and the twitterazzi in Cincinnati. that i am writing this and that i am on my own blog this very moment seems to justify my inclusion in the evening, but nonetheless, i found myself a little hesitant to identify as a blogger. even when Raphaela Platow cordially spoke to each participant of the evening, asking about our own approach to blogging, i referred to this place as a scratch pad, a space for annotations between larger writing projects, a sounding board.


when i first arrived to the small group in the lobby of the CAC, i was met with the question "And what is the name of your blog?" to which i answered, "my blog?" It isn't that i didn't understand the purpose of the evening, but that the CAC in particular knows me more for my work as an art critic for publications; I usually follow introductions by offering some of the magazines or journals i write for.


there was also the darkly suggestive replacement of a formal press preview for a blogger evening. now i am rarely one to gripe; i am generally just excited by movement, by friction and discourse in a community in which people complain of atrophy. i wonder if it isn't farfetched to perceive this evening as a shift in focus, as if established venues and modes of writing and criticism might be outdated.



awkward compartmentalizations and possible obsolesence aside, we proceeded upstairs to see two new exhibitions that share the second floor. (yes, anri sala will be staying up, but, as readers of Art Papers will have seen, I find the show powerfully engaging and important, so those who haven't given it a proper chance may do so in the coming months).

Marilyn Minter's Chewing Color and C. Spencer Yeh's Standard Definition are two delicious, vidoe heavy exhibitions that might have less focused subject matter in exchange for deeply sensual, up-close and personal looks at our eyes, mouths, throats, feet and so on. These images are really superficial relationships between the two artists that I'm tossing out there, because there is really so much difference between them.

One of the most interesting commonalities is that both Minter and Yeh create work in both the fine art and design/advertising fields.


Perhaps I will get back to Yeh in a different post or in an article or essay elsewhere. As an exhibition, it is much more engaging than some of his live performances that range from being eloquent and rich to feeling a little too chancey and ineffective at times. Music videos, three-channel video/audio installation and an almost symphonic, darkened listening chamber make up a compelling exhibition that well deserves its place in this season (a question i had going into it).


Mostly, I want to ramble about Minter a bit. She's popped up in the pages of recent issues of Vogue and Interview, had work on display in Times Square and video pieces used in performances by Madonna. She was one of three artists chosen for a recent crossover into art by the cosmetic brand M.A.C. Though I haven't seen it, I'm told her paintings appear in hip television programs like Gossip Girl. She's one of the new "it girls" it seems, and, in her sixties, i think that is a lovely notion.

Okay, so she has product placement down. But if we can learn it from anywhere, we can learn it from Mad Men that the advertising and the product are hardly the same thing. Does the work hold up to the hype?

For me, it does. In spades.





Painter and photographer and well represented in both mediums, I was more engrossed by Green Pink Caviar, a video piece projected across practically the entire far wall of the 2nd floor. A model's lipsticked mouth shoves, spits, smooshes all kinds of cake decorations, gelatinous sugar mixtures, and sparkling silver and gold liquids that are sleek and shiny enough to be nail polish or enamel paint. The video is show from beneath a glass surface that the model works with her mouth. Sexual? you betcha, but it is all suggestive, pushed around with the juices and icings on the glass. this piece is irrational beauty, and while i was looking at it, i thought about Amy Sedaris once explaining that her conception of beauty would be something like Isabella Rossellini, whose powerful beauty is augmented by her teeth. I believe Sedaris said something like a truer beauty is one that's a little fucked up. I tend to agree with my Miss Havisham roots.

i was also interested in how decisively she presented the photographs and paintings as obviously different forms of production. In the past, in previous exhibitions i've encountered of Minter's work (such as her inclusion in the 2006 Whitney Biennial), the paintings on aluminum and photographs mounted on aluminum are a little difficult to distinguish at times. Here, the photos are presented with their negative frames and a border of white paper around the image and hung with black bulldog clips. I was taken aback by the presentation because it interrupted the sleek, fashionable sensibility i associate with minter's work. but then, that's the whole, outrageous point isn't it? she isn't the same thing as her fashion world subject matters and counterparts. She is interested in beauty that is furthered by bits of disgust or grotesquerie.



props to Justine Ludwig, the curatorial assistant, who spoke very intelligently about both artists. I was impressed by her breadth of knowledge and her own insights she offered.


and i look foward to Marilyn's talk on Friday night at the museum.

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