written by Eddie Arroyo
There’s a bit of a quandary which is still prevalent within curatorial practice. One that was cited by Anton Vidokle’s“Art Without Artists”, stating he would not, “attempt to propose a solution for curators; they themselves need to come up with ways of thinking and working that do not undercut the sovereignty of artists.”
It was a wonderful way to end a contemplation of that very issue. Witnessing exhibition after exhibition – this notion had crossed my mind a number of times. Questions regarding the forces which influence the ideology that drive an art show. The artist’s intent, the curators vision for the space, does it undercut or re-enforce the institution’s (placeholder’s) quest to establish or retain influence within the community? These dynamics are considered in a clandestine way. Attempts to make it obvious would undermine the message in whatever forms it takes.
Apparent, at Michael Jon Gallery which had never made an effort to contextualize shows – failing to provide an artist statement or an extensive press release. There is a sense each show be experienced outside any preconceived notions or expectations. One has simply to step in.
And so I did, with the “Laddie John Dill, Cayetano Ferrer, Michael Hunter” group exhibition. Three artists (one from another generation completely) were in fact, sharing a space. This is nothing new given the nature the group show, however, significance rests on the execution. Curators Alan Gutierrez and Michael Radziewicz utilized the trio’s work as an installation which altered its language. This approach would concern Vidokle to be sure. I found it fascinating.
I stepped onto Ferrer’s artwork which was essentially a quilt of proprietary carpets of Las Vegas casinos. A beautiful mess of bright textile made of shapes and color colliding across and along the floor, harmony and chaos undulating. Along the walls hung Hunter’s paintings or drawings – depending what school of thought one subscribes too. A process executed by rending one image from the last bringing the sum to 25 pieces. The images were notable due to their botanical/ tropical form. It set a quiet horizon which complimented the swaying textile beneath my feet.
Station at the center was an island, Dill’s sculptural piece. Made of a mound of white sand, small rocks, and eight rectangular pieces glass sized to correspond to one another by adjacent symmetry, linear on a sculpture. Suddenly a number of the lights were turned off to reveal neon illuminating from the top of four of the corresponding glass cutting behind the sculpture into the air, the illusion of a green laser. All the lights turned on and the illusion vanished. Gutierrez perceived it as a performance, I agreed.
Taking a couple of steps back to see the installation I realized what had happened. The crux was its seduction.
The curators had altered the work’s intent and made it their own.
Essentially nothing new for there is a long history of curators doing this by unifying artists in common ideology and/or aesthetic. But to witness it take form in such a decisive way was remarkable. Not simply because it was done but it was done successfully. It adds to the dialog through collaboration – between the artist and curator.
An exciting change for a gallery who has come off from participating in Art Basel Miami Beach and a lack luster show of Egan Frantz‘s tinge of Zombie Formalism. With an exhibit that bears the title of the artists in name, I look forward to what methods will be utilized this year in a space that seems to carry a narrative in reference to its place in time.