Archive for January, 2014
Artist Duke Riley is a pigeon guy and for his recent project, he worked as a pigeon trainer in the Florida Keys. As the New York Times Article “Avian Artistry, With Smuggled Cigars” states “He started the training in Florida last year with 50 pigeons; 23 went on the first mission, this summer. Only 11 returned.” (The NY Times video is well worth watching.) The mission for the pigeons was a small political intervention… they served as documentarians or Cuban Cohiba cigar smugglers. Some of the pigeons carried small cameras that captured their travel between the Florida Keys and Cuba others travelled from Florida with empty harnesses to return with cigars.
The pigeon project’s artifacts are installed in the first gallery of MegnanMetz until 25 of January 2014, where you can see the pigeon coop with the pigeons still living in it, pigeon paintings, pigeon mosaics made from sea shells and videos that the pigeons made as well as other artifacts.
The second gallery presents documentation of a collaborative performance along the canals of Zhujiajiao in China that re-stages a legendary race of the Chinese zodiac. A projected wall video shows the race and along another wall are mounted animal masks that performers wore to represent the various creatures of the Chinese zodiac. On the wall opposite from the video is a large scale drawing capturing the legend of the Chinese zodiac.
Alex Prager employed a soundstage in Hollywood to create her latest set of works. Near the street entrance hang beautiful large scale color photographs and toward the back is an immersive three-channel video installation that the prints appear to be taken from. As the press release describes the video installation
the film opens with a series of confessional monologues in which characters from the crowd scenes poignantly relate their own stories and insights, such as childhood memories, recurring nightmares and personal revelations. Suddenly, the scene changes and an orchestra strikes as a sea of people flood into view. The iconic heroine then leads the viewer on a journey through the crowd wordlessly expressing a range of emotions including isolation, sadness, confusion, curiosity and anxiety. The juxtaposition of character monologues and the frenetic crowd scene poignantly illustrates that within a swirling sea of strangers, there are countless individual stories and unique experiences unfolding.
The concept is striking and the video could easily be longer by portraying more individuals in the beginning portion. In fact the small number of portraits at the beginning undermines the concept. I believe that commonly, individuals living in dense urban environments desire to peak into the lives of others. That is to have the opportunity to observe the day to day lives of ones neighbors or the person sitting across one in the subway. This has been a common motif in films as characters use binoculars or telescope to spy on the neighbors.
The power of bird’s eye view of a multitude of individuals flowing in a public space that is presented in the video would be enhanced if the viewer begins to identify individuals from the portraits.
One other element that I’m critical off is the need to stylize the individuals in the video. The people in portraits were highly made up to the extent that they seem to represent stereotypes. This exaggeration reduces the gravitas that the work may otherwise carry. Perhaps by evoking stereotypes, the artist is reflecting on how mediated our lives are or that our lives are but a fiction.
Soon, I’ll be launching an RSS feed featuring illustration of famous news broadcasters such as Barbara Walters. Each news broadcast personality will be set against the icon or colors of the corporation they worked for.