The works express ambiguous humor with their brief statements.
On the one hand, they suggest that their means of presenting their opinions is wildly out of control, and that they have to express their insights. On the other, they are quite painful to view. Im sure they are a pity on the artists, to them.At the same time, how is one to react to such serious work? Can one turn the tables? It does not need to be presented in a lighthearted, quid-proquo way. If this is meant to be a "teach-and-jokes sort of attitude, the impression it provides may be responsible for our silence. To be self-critical or to be slightly embarrassed in front of such work would be a low point, but it is hardly necessary. One is not obliged to point out the shortcomings of it. Its an academic, is what it is. You have to accept it in order to be amused.The work in the exhibition is a self-conscious, self-reflexive subversion of social attitudes and expectations. It is self-criticism in the most traditional sense. The dialogue, the communication, is off the record. The inarticulateness of the approach is emphasized. Nevertheless, one can feel some of the negative as well as positive qualities about the work. In fact, it is much more than the rest of the show makes out. It represents the institutionalized and fragmented, and, perhaps, unwittingly so.
Justified and freewheeling, they are more than mere tongue-in-cheek gestures; they are attempts to transform the concept of the art object into a metaphor for the aggressive, exclusive, and self-reflexive nature of sexuality. Soutine and his French peers could be seen as parodies of bourgeois culture—like the famous joke that, after the death of his father, Joseph Beuys began wearing his coffin in a coffin, turning his own work into a performance.
But as the viewer can deduce from the points of view in the works, what is ironic is not the phrase or the words, but the loose reflection of certain presuppositions.Johannes Scheidt is a writer who currently teaches in Munich.Translated from German by Helène Furth.
The works express ambiguous humor with their brief statements. One is led to wonder if the art is meant to be taken seriously. Is it satire, a form of repetition of the very form of absurdism? Is it ironic, as in W. H. Auden's calls to attention to things and their connections?This situation is heightened in the 30 or 40 works which make up the group called Prairie Collection. All are signed but not dated, but are made of some sort of pine or birch bark. They are paired with plaques. They refer to various connotations—hoary trees, woodlice, a red wineglass, flowers, a dog, a geisha, a popeye, a log. The wood is measured, the plaques are sketched, the popes are intertwined. The motto, A MONOMANOUS SINGLE BODY, appears near each work. But are we being chided for expressing our discomfort in the face of our social conditioning? The strong red wineglass, with its attached photo of a twirling pop-eye, adds an extra twist to the situation. The image is replaced by a portion of a grainy back-projected image.In a witty critique of the subjectivism of the commercial world, Big Smoke writes, It is the expression of a desire to be looked at, who hopes to be looked at, to be looked at. He says he is not having it both ways; he wants to be looked at, but he wants to be looked at. This is obviously an attitude that excludes some—this is the subjective nature of the work. Another form of artistic irony is added by its inclusion of a small photograph of a red wineglass in which a pile of grapes has been replaced by a pile of empty beer cans. A joke that both satirically polemics and is ironic. The reference to the self-centeredness of the individual viewer has been added to the sacred language of advertising; in other words, the art is both telling and reflecting.
The gala-dancer looks stoically and placidly to the viewer as though she were a courtesan, an assembly. But there is something more than a conventionality of the gala-dancer, however, as an open-ended statement—perhaps the only statement of the trip. In an unfettered zone between positive and negative language, she declares her intent with a complete certainty and gives a certain, penetrating insight. As is always the case with Gomos work, the impact is light, but the energy is strong. The viewer is presented with an action that is bizarre yet tranquil and stilled—like meditation, or love, but in another sense—a sort of simple, rigorous narrative. The objects and statements, the minimalism of the drawings, the self-reflexivity of the drawings themselves, are not meant to be interpreted.They are rather enigmatic and open-ended. This is not a solo exhibition. In fact, Gomos works can be considered individual works. They are not based on a single idea, but instead on the expression of a combination of different thought processes. It is not a straightforward situation in which the artist simply depicts her own thought process; the various elements, their impact and their relationship to the work, are discussed at length, as are the potential meanings of the works. The result is a confusing, anthropomorphized, ambiguous experience, one that is open to two different interpretations. Gomos works are filled with tension and contradictions, which is part of their charm, and it is evident that this tension is the result of her seemingly detached observation of social behavior.