Thursday, November 5, 2009

bill viola/james turrell - 1980's- pittsburgh peeps some help? please.....

uber rambly, beware, this is the contents of my brain after teaching 9-5:

something today compelled me to look up, yet again, the line up of artists from the 1988 Carnegie International. I looked it up once at Bobst (NYU's library) and like most books you'd actually want there, it said they had it, but it was missing. Jump to now and well, Brown has the catalog from 1988 and 1991. They are fascinating to me because, well, i'm sure i saw at least one of them, and have very vague memories about what i saw. nothing in these catalogs, though, seems to be the work i remember the most vividly, so i'm imaging there must have been a show somewhere in between the two.

looking back i've put names to two pieces, though maybe the names are wrong. there was what i've determined was a james turrell piece, a larger than life size mesmerizing blue glowing circle seamlessly placed on the wall which had a path towards it lined with small speakers which gave pout a faint buzzing sound. i'm not sure how long i stood staring at it, trying to figure out how it worked. it was the most amazing thing i had ever seen. i think its interesting that it resonated on some basic level in my teenage brain.

the other was a video piece, in a dark, thin, tall space. there was an image of fire projected on the top of the walls and ceiling. it sort of dived across the space fleetingly, it was there for an instant then gone. there was sound. it was scary, but not terrifying. i feel like there were also hands instead of fire sometimes. hmm, now that i'm thinking about it maybe it was bruce nauman. will look up now. ok just checked and no it wasn't.

so i'm stumped and there isn't an exhibition archive online for the Carnegie Museum that goes back that far. does anyone remember these pieces?

in coming back to this memory, and placing it in time with other memories, i think i have begun to identify my displaced feelings about being here at Brown. its not just taking myslef out of New York, but there are many levels. i keep saying things like "i feel like i'm in a movie which is about going to a University", in that my college experiences were very much not like this. Sure, there was some "bubble" ness, but not this "University" experience. but its not entirely alien, i've only just uncovered. I spent nearly 3 years of saturdays and 2 years of summers going to pre-college at Carnegie Mellon. I never lived there, but i could take book sout of their library all year round and use their studios in the summer. it has a campus, you could eat in their cafeteria. i could walk into Oakland and buy records, and go to the museum. while not everyone in the program was talented, they were all much more serious about art than i'd encounter on a daily basis in high school.

i don't remember much about visiting RISD back in 1989, except that the tour around RISD and Brown gave me a familiar feeling, it was like Carnegie Mellon but far away form home. it felt do-able. very do-able. i have no idea what my life would have turned out like had i gone to RISD, but i bet it would be very different. no, i know it would have. being in NY set me on a different path entirely. So i bet in some ways being here is some weird continuation of that thought from 1989, but now instead of familiar it just feels foreign and maybe just a tad restrictive in some unconscious way. i'm beginning to make connections between here and pittsburgh now, and maybe that way it will make more sense.

the reason i looked up the Carnegie International in the first place was for my Brown artist talk, before i got this job. i was trying to pinpoint when, and where, my sensibilities came from in terms of how i relate to photography/art. looking at these catalogs now, i'm not 100% convinced it was any of the Carnegie Internationals, but instead two things i saw in college......Christine Osinski took us to see "Special Collections: The Photographic Order From Pop To Now" in 1992 at ICP, and the Gordon Matta-Clark retrospective at the Serpentine in London in 1993. Things started to congeal after this point. something clicked. i think, perhaps, it was one of the first times i'd seen photographs used in a sculptural way.

but back to these here catalogs.......i'm sort of shocked to see all these household names were in these exhibitions in 88 and 91 (thomas struth, anish kapoor, jeff koons) who i though had risen a little later that that. its also hillarious to see an agnes martin painting then turn the page to an elizabeth murray. another aspect though it that a lot of the work doesn't look dated. i'm not sure if its because people my age grew up with this and are now producing work which sort of references it, or if its the younger generation of artists which are a) maybe not aware of this work and some kind of similar aesthetic is happening or b) HAVE (or are) discovered(ing) this work and think its awesome and are just going with it or c) it never really went away.

I mean, Phillip Taaffe is back. fischli & weiss, bruce nauman, michael asher, richard artschwager, hiroshi sugimto. but then again some of the curator/critics are the same now as then, lynne cooke, barbara london, thomas mcevilley. (i didn't take out the catalog for '85 but Saskia Bos has an essay in it i think.....)

also looking at the Mattress Factory's past exhibition lineup......maybe i just think i'm younger than i really am, i mean if Tracy emin did a performance there in '94......hmmmm

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