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Friday, April 4, 2008

Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes

Maya Lin, "Blue Lake Pass"

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) - Downtown location.
Friday night. Family trip to the opening of “Systematic Landscapes” by artist Maya Lin. I don’t think I have ever seen such a long line of people waiting outside! A lot of people are interested in contemporary art, and that’s great!

We finally enter the Museum, and there we can see the first piece, which appears to be a topography of some sort. People are going through, in small paths. We get closer, the kids love it, they almost disappear between the “cubes”, the guards are a little bit nervous. Each cube is made of vertical particle board “with the top edges cut to match a topographic line”. It is very pleasant to see; the edges catch the light and make the piece almost moving like the surface of the ocean. The name of the piece is Blue Lake Pass.

In the next room we find ourselves under a simple structure made entirely of wire, which takes up the whole room. Water Line is the title of the piece. So we are underwater! It is about the invisible geography of the oceans, a huge world we even do not think about. I find the piece very poetic. I like to walk under it: it is really unusual.

In the next room, three structures, flat on the top and made of layers of plywood. We can walk around, the scale is much smaller than the previous pieces, they look delicate (which they are certainly not) and some very attentive guards are extremely careful that nobody touches them, which makes the situation complicated with young children! The three pieces are the representation of three bodies of water: the Caspian, Black and Red Seas.

Coming out, we have to be careful not to walk on the line carved into the floor and filled with a metallic material. It looks like a long, thin, white crack in the concrete.

Maya Lin, "2x4 Landscape"

Then we enter the vast room where “2x4 Landscape” stands. Here it is, a huge wave or may be a hill or a monster coming from underneath the ground. The piece takes almost the entire room, one can only walk around. The edge is straight, and one can see the piece is made of thousands of small pieces of wood. Very impressive. The room is crowded and a few minutes later Richard Andrews gives a talk, followed by Maya Lin herself. Richard Andrews, Director and exhibition Curator, is visibly excited about the exhibition. “Systematic Landscapes are mostly three large scale commissioned works. First and foremost it shows an artist obsessive about our relationship with nature. She is asking us to reflect on our personal relationship with nature and she intentionally brings nature into architecture. She begins with a sketch, then she makes a model in her studio in New York, approximately 3 x 4 feet, until it is perfect. This particular work appears from a distance like a digital model but we know that the form is from the natural world. This piece, made of thousands of pieces of wood, looks like a frozen computer map but strikes us in the heart.”

Maya Lin: “I am used to working outdoors on huge pieces, usually thousands of square feet. I rarely create pieces for the inside of a museum. I just finished a piece about the Grand Canyon which covers eleven acres. The works for the inside like these ones are much more hands-on compared to the works outside which require bulldozers.”

So for her these works are small, that’s interesting!

What a change with the last exhibition about the work by Robert Irwin. Both exhibitions radically different, both magical. We cannot stay for very long with the children, I promise we will come back. I am very happy to have seen the exhibition with them. I don’t know how and where, but it opens doors.

Seeing, Seeing, Seeing…

Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes
MCASD downtown
March 30 – June 30, 2008

1 comment:

Tobermory said...

I am going to this exhibition in the next week or so. I saw the photos, and I was intrigued! It looks so . . . textural? Hard to explain.

(I'm Karen, by the way, if that isn't clear. I think this will link to my blog.)