Although you may see me running around in different museums and galleries on Instagram, believe me, I don’t get out much. My interns can attest that if I’m not installing a show or at an event, I’m most likely cooped up in my office working, trying to create these exhibitions that are gonna heat the streets up.
But, I do know the importance of getting out into the world and seeing what everyone else is doing. Recently, the way I’ve been able to do that is by having the coolest interns in the world go out and find artists and exhibitions that I should go visit. Last month I visited the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) and I will say, I was very impressed. The museum itself was modern and pristine… I felt like I was in the future, past, and present all at the same time.
While I was there I reviewed three response-invoking exhibitions and with some encouragement from my interns and a friendly face at the National Gallery of Art, I’ve decided to post said reviews. Alright, here we go:
John Waters: Indecent Exposure
This show was grotesque, eerie, and at some points just very odd; but I respected it because it conjured an honest, authentic reaction out of me. It was so appalling that it noticeably changed my mood. It made me think about some of the messed up sh*t in the world and explore some of the contributing factors at play.
One of the first pieces I saw was Playdate – two lifelike doll replicas of Michael Jackson and Charles Manson as adult babies.
The piece is meant to question the fine line between age and innocence while also exploring why these two men had such intense public followings. It was an interesting comparison because the two men lived such different lives, but in regards to public fascination and attention, their lives did intersect. With that being said, I was not completely comfortable comparing a psychopathic mass murderer to a child-star (I mean honestly there are more powerful ways to explore age and innocence) but hey I played along. So, this piece definitely made me question these sentiments, but the dolls looked so lifelike it was freaky… Kind of gross if I’m being frank…
Some of his other pieces tackled topics such as religion being used a weapon, condemning money-hungry companies, and the right to express sexual orientation. He displayed these ideas with very vulgar pieces, some of which defaced objects we might consider sacred or special.
Bill’s Stroller used a stroller with penises and other sexual objects (such as the leather straps) displayed on it to examine the contrast between sexual exploration and committed relationships – starting a family and what-not… Although I appreciated his social commentary and analysis of promiscuity and sexual freedom, presenting that on a baby stroller puts an unpleasant image in my mind.
Praying is Begging displays words spray painted over photographs of religious figures praying (lowkey resembling blood). It takes aim at the American Catholic Church and how religion is used as a weapon against particular groups of people – for example, the KKK is registered as a “Christian organization” – let that sink in… This piece sheds light on religion being used to justify discrimination, hate crimes, and possibly other forms of oppression… Again, decent message, but the way in-which he displayed it was so offensive it made me repent my sins.
The last piece I’ll comment on is Hetero Flower Shop – a cluster of photographs of flowers and other stereotypical items given as gifts to celebrate a child’s birth. These items carry stereotypical (and sometimes unconscious) gender-specific messaging such as “It’s a Boy.” Waters uses this photomontage to communicate the way companies (like Visa and MasterCard) capitalize off of gender definitions and stereotypes. I really liked this piece because it brings attention to gender profitability and its unfair tendencies such as the ‘Pink Tax.’
I honestly enjoyed and appreciated much of his messaging, but these presentations were so grotesque it made my insides turn. Some of the works were so disturbing I don’t even want to post them on Roberta’s website (I’m not tryna get kicked off already LOL). After I was done viewing this exhibition it was like a dark cloud was above me. Art will do that to you sometimes, but in my opinion it’s the “good” art that leaves a lasting impression.
Mark Bradford: Tomorrow is Another Day
I thought this exhibition had the most fascinating, handsomely crafted work. Originally commissioned for the 2017 Venice Biennale, this exhibition takes viewers through Bradford’s life growing up in Los Angeles with pieces that create a narrative of “ruin, violence, agency, and possibility.” There was one piece in particular I’d like to mention entitled, Spoiled Foot. This crater-like humongous piece made from found objects takes over the small room it’s displayed in. It forces you to duck, dodge, and even lay on the floor to fully look at it. It took some very creative thinking to force people into viewing your artwork in this manner. When you walk into the exhibition it is the first piece you see and you will essentially be forced to look at the entire piece in order to walk through the room and into the next portion of the exhibition. It challenges the way we traditionally view artwork, which is what I liked most about it. You cannot passively view this piece. Also, the way it bears down on you allows room for a mass amount of feelings and interpretations. You have to examine and appreciate every detail in-order to feel the piece’s full effect.
Maren Hassinger: The Spirit of Things
The exhibition was absolutely… I can’t even caste the right words to describe it… It was just so beautiful. The work was very responsive to real-life occurrences, such as environmental change or the inner-workings of personal relationships. The work possessed a very honest and authentic view of equality and spoke to the sentiment of always deciphering how you personally can make the world a better place.
Some of her work incorporated newspaper and flexible wire rope in what seems to be an effort to resemble vines and trees. These works are used to explore the relationship between “industry and environment” and how they are currently coexisting.
Her use of the color pink is worth mentioning as well because it is such a controversial color [sidenote: pink one of my favorite colors, in fact the ONLY time I ever exhibited my photography was when I showcased a photo series called ‘(P)ink’]. She used pink-colored bags filled with human breath to describe love and other human relations. While viewing this it made me feel vulnerable and forced me to reflect on how I treat the world (and the people) around me. Just as well, it made me remember that there is good in this world, we just have to be willing to let it in. *cue the sweet sounds of Minnie Riperton*
There ya have it. My first official art review. I encourage anyone reading this to go the BMA and see these exhibitions – let me know what you think of my reviews. Were they spot on? Did I totally miss? Be honest, I won’t be offended. I’m not an art critic… yet :-)