Archive for August, 2008
Generally, I blog art that I like and find inspiring, but every now and then when I find art really annoying and over the top, I can’t help but including it in this site and Olafur Eliasson’s NYC Waterfalls fall into the annoying and ridiculous of contemporary art.
Jerry Slatz gets it right when he states that “the waterfalls seem dinkier than you’d think… In addition, it’s obvious that these aren’t waterfalls at all; they’re just plumbing, tall metal scaffoldings with pipes pumping cascades of water off the top.” Then in the following paragraph of his NY Magazine review he waxes poetic, not so much about the Waterfalls, but how they enhance the NYC skyline. But the NYC skyline doesn’t need clunky$15.5 million waterfalls to enhance it!
The NYC Waterfalls strike me as a failed attempt at monumentalism and an example of the worst type of public art – public art that can not be enjoyed and experienced by people, it can only be stared at from a distance. Whenever I visit Chicago, I make a point of going to Millennium Park, the grand public arts work in downtown Chicago. Millennium Park has its own conflicts, but as I watch people interact with monumental contemporary works of art at the park, I see success because people are able to enjoy the work first hand. Children play in Plensa’s “Crown Fountain”, people stand within Kapoor’s giant bean and are mesmerized by the reflection and visual play. Of course Millennium Park is permanent, but the park presents exciting possibilities for public art at a monumental scale, whereas the Waterfalls presents a modernist throwback to public art.
People have compared the Waterfalls to Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s The Gates, but The Gates managed to transform Central Park at both the sweeping grand scale of the park as a whole as well as at the level of the individual pedestrian. Whereas the Waterfalls are not attractive, they merely appear as a lot of scaffolding with running water that shrinks below the scale of the city. It’s a shame that the Public Art Fund doesn’t take a more visionary approach to the possibilities of what public art might be.
As the U.S. Presidential Elections near, artists are preparing creative critiques and shedding light on alternate perspectives by utilizing every media vehicle available. Two online projects that combine sound and the social aspect of the web are Another Protest Song and Voices of America. Both projects rely on contributions from across the globe to establish an archive of audible dissent.
Valerie Tevere and Angel Nevarez have asked musicians, artists and song writers to contribute their contemporary protest songs. Another Protest Song questions “What does a 21st Century protest song sound like?” and seeks to establish an online archive of musical outcry today.
Voices of America a collaborative effort between Lee Azzarello, free103point9 and Sarah Kanouse will investigate the sound and reach of the US government broadcasting service Voice of America, heard on radio across the globe, but not in the United States. Voices of America asks contributors to upload recorded election coverage from over-the-air Voice of America stations to then be downloaded and remixed by anyone online. The site launch is immediately following the Democratic and Republican conventions, but the site is now open for participation.
Both projects rely upon the participation of the online masses to generate content that reflect nuanced elements of today’s political arena.
This past week, I happened to be running errands on Canal St. and decided to stop by Deitch to check out what was up and was wonderfully surprised by an incredible installation by the Brazilian twins that go by just that – Os Gemeos. I’ve been a fan of Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo’s work for a while and it was just at the right time to walk into their installation, because it presented the sort of inspiration I’ve been in need of… Simply Latino, celebratory and brilliant. More documentation at SuperTouch.