“9 artists” minus Five
“9 Artists,” a group exhibition at the Walker Art Center, included this extensive piece by Danh Vo (pictured left). I M U U R 2 is “the personal archive of deceased Lower East Side painter Martin Wong that was developed over many years in collaboration with his mother Florence Wong.” Although it is not identified, Danh Vo has included one of his sculptures in the mix.
One of the best pieces of this exhibition, “I M U U R 2,” (especially paired with Bjarne Melgard) brought up questions of the archive as experience, and with the extremely large amount of disturbing blackface memorabilia, the relationship of the consumption of people for entertainment.
Bjarne Melgaard’s nasty fiction of artist as grand egomaniac, The awakening and consumption of Heidi Fleiss as she talks to a brioche that includes the video, Bjarniiiiii it’s me, (see below for a short) is one of the first memorable pieces encountered in the exhibition. While I’m not sure how much of that work is truly fictional, it left such a lasting impact on the rest of the pieces in the exhibition nothing else could be experienced without comparison. If intended otherwise the curator should have given a palette cleanser in between rather than more Melgaard and relatively insubstantial works.
Melgaard’s work, The awakening and consumption of Heidi Fleiss as she talks to a brioche, is a series of photographic images of the artist holding sway in New York. In the center of the work this video piece where stuffed between images of him roving around New York, Heidi Fleiss talks to a brioche about her sadistic relationship with said artist. Cringeworthy yet I went back twice. There’s no apologies here.
When you are in a show with such big over the top pieces by Melgaard and Vo you’ve got to do something deadpan funny like Hito Steyerl’s How not to be seen. A fucking didactic educational .MOV file. Going from google earth type photos of earth sized resolution images used by military intellegence on how to stay invisible, rogue pixels, swipes, and to the individual, Steyerl’s hit the mark when her narrator throws down “be a woman over 50” into the list of how not to be seen. She’s been eaten up and thrown out.
Yael Bartana’s and Europe will be stunned, video installation encompasses a series of rooms. Playing in the round on multiply and varying screen sizes; viewers are inundated with repetitions of the narrative. The artist uses a beautiful documentary style footage to make the argument that there is no use attempting a nostalgic return. Bartana tells the story “of the rise of the Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland, a quasi-fictional political group that calls for the return to that country of 3.3 million Jews” by recreating clean, arm-band wearing, youth and adults singing and speaking for the return while building their own internment camp with watchtower and barbed wire.
These four artists pieces create a complex look at the role of artists today. The strength of this mix is diluted by the inclusion of the other artists. Regardless, I’d go back and see this again if I had more time.
P.S. I can’t help but also note, that how one remains invisible is to allow someone else to reign supreme.