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Friday, January 22, 2010

Tara Donovan @MCASD

Untitled (Styrofoam cups)

At last! I went to see Tara Donovan at MCASD. And then I went back. The first time was at night, January 14. The museum organized a "member's celebration" with the curators, on the occasion of the show.

Unfortunately it is not possible to take pictures so I only took one from the outside. It is the first piece you see when you enter the Jacobs Building: Untitled (Styrofoam cups). That first piece, made of thousands of Styrofoam cups is unbelievable. And like someone said that night, I hope the MCASD will buy it and keep it as long as possible. Walking under that piece is an experience in itself.

The first piece by Tara Donovan that I saw was a few months ago at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido in the exhibition "Quint: Three Decades of Contemporary Art". It was the cube made of pins (3½ foot tall). But only when I went to the MCASD, I understood how the cube was made. The cube is made on site (from a box full of pins - the box being removed from the floor and the pins stand together on their own, without glue or anything). When the show is over, the pins are put back in a box and stored. Next time the cube is shown, the cube will be re-installed by a crew of another museum, following precise instructions.

One of the curator at the MCASD was saying that the museum bought one of the pieces made of millions of straws (stacked against the wall). Each piece is site specific. One piece consists in boxes full of straws, a map of the way they have to be stacked together. When the museum wants to install it, a special crew takes care of the installation and the installation is checked by Tara Donovan. I think it is a very interesting way to work and to think about what is an art object.

Although I read and heard about the show at the MCASD before to go, I was surprised by what I saw.

The scale of the work, the fact that each piece is a site-specific installation, the way the light (natural or artificial) plays with the pieces, the different weights (some pieces look light, others look heavy), the fact that the perception of the pieces change when one walks around, like with the piece made of straws or the one (on the ground) made of Mylar...

The work made with industrial/basic/cheap material (things that we use and usually throw away) is amazingly beautiful. That alone is fascinating. That opposition.

Tara Donovan's work is very poetic and makes me travel.

In my work I am asking myself a lot of questions and when I see Tara Donovan's work I see the clever answers she finds. I am impressed by the way she takes over the space (ceilings, floor, walls).

Her work is invitational, includes the viewer rather to exclude him/her. When I enter Tara Donovan's world I do not especially think first, I immediately have a good feeling about what is going on. I am attracted to it and it is good to watch it, to walk, to be around or surrounded by it.

I went to see the show with friends, and we met a lot of people we knew at the museum that night. What struck me is that there was a lightness in the air, people were happy to be there, it is not always obvious. People were saying that the work makes them happy! I was great to hear that. People were really enjoying it.

I decided to go back with the family a few days after, this time in the morning. The children loved the work, although it is difficult for them to understand that they cannot touch the pieces, because they are so inviting, that's what I would like to do too! It is very important for them to see art made with such materials, and with a lot of freedom. And also to understand that they will never see the same show again. It is a morphing/adaptative work.

Rethinking what we have around us. Seeing things differently. Including in our practices anything that we can think of.

Her work is an eye opener about "possibilities". I question my practice every single day. About pretty much every aspect of it. Then I do not necessarily find solutions, but the questions are there. When I see her work, it is very empowering and at the same time I can see where I am still "not liberated". But I am working on it!

Something very interesting in the show - that one can still listen to anytime: the audio tour. Call (858) 384 3321
and then access the different commentaries on the pieces (mostly by Tara Donovan).
20# Exhibit overview
21# Untitled (Styrofoam cups)
22# "Transplanted"
23# Untitled (plastic cups)
24# Haze (straws)
25# Moire
26# Untitled (toothpicks), Untitled (broken glass), Untitled (pins)
27# Bluffs
28# Untitled (Mylar)
29# Untitled (Mylar tape)
30# Nebulous
31# Untitled (paper plates)

Tara Donovan
MCASD (downtown location)
October 25, 2009 - February 28, 2010

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