Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Seamless constructions

I'm not a huge fan of modern art, especially the very abstract, cerebral stuff (you know, those three pieces of plywood painted bright red or blue to make you reflect on the deep meaning of art and so on). To me, art doesn't "work" if there's no clear display of skill that elicits a direct emotional response.

So I was very impressed by the latest exhibit at the American Indian Museum of works by Brian Jungen. So much that I didn't mind going twice in the space of a week. The pieces displayed are all built from highly recognizable implements of modern life, often heavily branded (suitcases, Nike Air Jordans, golf bags, plastic lawn chairs, etc), turned into Native American craft, masks, totems, and fantastic animals. The construction is seamless, and at the same time you recognize the elements of a pair of shoes, they have become a very elaborate mask and there's no going back (or is there?). Of course, there are layers of meanings and symbols woven into these constructions, it is modern art after all. But it is a direct experience anybody can appreciate, and a good reason to walk around this new museum and sample its spiced cocoa on the way out!

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