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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A day in L.A. / Bergamot Station:
Santa Monica Museum of Art

We go to Bergamot Cafe to get a late lunch. The split pea soup is delicious, we enjoy the shaded patio for a while. It is very peaceful.

Farmlab, "Junker garden"

Then we head to The Santa Monica Museum of Art. Outside the museum I take a photograph of a “Junker Garden” by Farmlab: a Mercedes transformed in a pot planted with ferns.
"The Gardens are a result of Farmlab's ongoing project to generate viable urban agricultural models that are not dependent on land ownership, an effort inspired by the 2006 eviction of the nearby South Central Farmers."

Inside the Museum (I cannot take pictures inside), the exhibition “The Puppet Show” presents twenty-seven contemporary artists who explore the imagery of puppets, in sculpture, video and photography: Louise Bourgeois, Bruce Nauman, Annette Messager, Kiki Smith, Dennis Oppenheim, Laurie Simmons, William Kentridge, to name a few.

Bruce Nauman’s video “A violent incident” opens the dance and sets the tone. I saw that video many years ago in Paris and I remember being riveted to it: it never ends, always restarts. The violence erupts between two people that we believe are a couple, and then the scene starts again. I recognize from afar a piece by Louise Bourgeois: a weird mobile with hanging limbs made of stitched pieces of fabrics. I do not feel much; maybe I became immune to that work. Next to it is a piece by Mike Kelley: a set of furniture with puppet size clothes hanging in weird places (over the foot of the bed, for example). The puppet theme puts me in a strange mood: it is like walking on the set of a horror movie like “Chucky”. I do not like very much all the puppets looking at me, all strangely alive, like in the work by Laurie Simmons: the large photos representing a real woman within groups of male puppets. I shiver.

One piece gets my attention, I find it very poetic. It is “What will come”, a 2007 piece by William Kentridge: “an anamorphic film reflected in a cylinder, 35 mm film transferred to DVD, 8:40mn”. I am looking at a turning table where images (black and white drawings) are projected from the ceiling and do not seem to make sense. In the center of the table is a vertical cylinder which also turns. The images are reflected on the cylinder and there I can see a movie. It is very dreamy but things happen, it is hard to say what. Figures, forests, war, destruction. The drawings are very sensual. The piece is harrowing.

Close to it is another piece by Louise Bourgeois, “Henrietta”, a huge leg, half prosthetic, black, made of bronze is suspended in a corner. Heavy and somber. There are some videos I do not feel like watching and then I see “Faire Parade”, a 1985 piece by Annette Messager. It is a stuffed pair of children’s pajamas, suspended and pierced by a lot of colored pencils. I am thinking of a magic doll pierced with needles. “We are all puppets, we manipulate and we are manipulated” says Annette Messager.

More videos around, I watch some of them.

Ok, I need some fresh air now!

We saw many other spaces, shapes, colors, frames, objects and more.

“What would you be if you were not a human?”

One of the spaces I really liked is Hiromi Paper International, a small temple of exquisite papers, I could have stayed there forever, looking, touching (a little), enjoying the material. Also there was a beautiful wall, part of the Santa Monica Museum of Art: “Wall Works – Blik and me”. “What would you be if you were not a human?” This question was asked by wall graphics design firm Blik and answered by 250 local school children with images ranging from animals to Australia.

Each Student contributed an original black and white drawing which Blik converted into a colorful decal. Then they assembled all the decals together. The result is a refreshing long wall full of multi colored drawings.

We are heading back to San Diego now, not really ready for the two-hour drive but it is always worth it to come here to see some art. I have never been deceived. I wish I could come more often!

1 comment:

Tobermory said...

I loved this entry, Michele. Your writing really gives me the feeling of what you saw. Even though your feeling for this exhibition was uncomfortable, it really makes me want to experience it for myself.