Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Stuff Of the Still Life

I happened to be in the neighborhood of Chelsea, so I B-lined it to Nicole Klagsbrun.  I had seen some pics from the Sean Bluechel exhibit, “Still Life Is No Life”, and found the work and its presentation both whimsical and refreshing.  I’m not at all opposed to or repelled by things ceramic, but I will say the discovery of this was unexpected and it ultimately had a less than positive effect on how I experienced the work.  It seems unfair to be negative about work that I kind of liked- but I guess the ‘kind of’ is the reveal here. Because, I ‘kind of’ thought the photographs were amusing, and had a similar sort of whimsy to them at first glance. But upon the second and third glance, I “kind of” didn’t love them.  They seemed deliberately childish in an over the top, I don’t quite buy this, kind of way. Some of the photos were grabbed on line, and while they worked well together with the ceramic pieces, aesthetically and with a similar sense of humor, the infantile quality began to grate on me.  

The sculptures too, become oddly repetitive. I started imagining the artist going to ceramic studios and pilfering the creations of small children and then mashing them together to create his quirky assemblages.  If that were true, I’d think wow, he sort of one-upped Dubuffet, because instead of mimicking the styles of children and/or outsider artists, he just stole their work.  That would be “kind of” brilliant.  

Anne Carson described in her Autobiography of Red, “the fragments of Geryoneis…as if Stesichoros had composed a substantial narrative poem then ripped it into pieces and buried the pieces in a box with some song lyrics and lecture notes and scraps of meat”. That would also be a nice explanation as to why all of the pieces look related to one another. I suspect that neither is the case here.  But what the hell, it’s all in good fun and I think it’s still worth a gander.  It's open through April 6. Do it.


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