Counter Culture New Museum of Contemporary Art
If nothing else, Counter Culture is a clever solution to the transitional state that the New Museum—along with most museums—is in: it is an effort to find a middle ground between the new $20 admission at MoMA and the Star Wars exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. Awaiting the construction of their new space on the Bowery, to be completed in 2006, the New Museum attempts with Counter Culture to provide an exchange between the neighborhood and museumgoers by setting up a collection of "interventions" within a two-block radius of where the new New Museum will be. Each of the seven artists in the show used an existing institution as a base for their piece, making the viewer’s interaction with the non-museum public vital to the experience of the show. However, in setting up this relationship, it was a lopsided exchange from the outset.
"Can You Hear Me" by Julianne Swartz announces the show with it’s striking form and clear motive. Its bright yellow piping runs from the street into the second floor lobby of the Sunshine Hotel and literally shoves "exchange with the locals" down your throat. The viewer shouts into the piping (something that a wide tube at eye level just begs for) and the residents can communicate back if they are so inclined. In Marion Wilson’s "This Store Too" the artist pushes a cart around a few days a week selling works that she made with objects donated from homeless people from the Bowery Mission, as stated in the press release, to "provide an opportunity for needy people to participate in commercial exchange."
Though the intentions of the show are noble, the result is something of a failure. While the museumgoer thinks it is a witty concept to be able to communicate with "the people" through a tube, is the person on the other end really having the same intellectual experience? And, conceptually, it may be a nice idea to show how a homeless person can make riches out of rags, but would it really be as easy for a homeless person to sell these works as it is for an artist in a museum exhibit?
In the midst of the overall feeling of the show there were some pieces that manage to negotiate this difficult territory with positive results. "Secret Places" by the Queens based collective Flux Factory requires a very covert type of exchange by asking you to go into Bowery Martial Arts store and relay a secret password to the man sitting behind the counter. You are then lead into the back stockroom of the store to find a makeshift control center where you receive your secret mission. The use of humor along with the idea of infiltration worked to turn the show’s theme around on itself.
Jean Shin’s "Wishing Well" infuses the usually mundane industrial sinks that are ubiquitous along the Bowery sidewalks with a surprising beauty by welding several of them together. Shin’s use of materials shows consideration and respect for the surrounding area as opposed to the negative feeling of infiltration that brings forth the division between the museum and the public in a somewhat unequal exchange.
76. (The Brooklyn Museum)By Raphael Rubinstein
NOV 2021 | The Miraculous
At the sparsely attended opening of his first museum show in the United States, a German artist carries a 16-mm movie camera on his shoulder throughout the event. As people come up to congratulate him, he says almost nothing while pointing the camera at their faces. Its unclear whether or not he is actually filming, but the camera effectively insulates him from his fans, however few they are.
The Academy MuseumBy Edward Mendez
MARCH 2022 | Film
Driven by its mission to advance the understanding, celebration, and preservation of cinema, the Academy Museum addresses film history through its dynamic and educational exhibitions.
Visiting the Acropolis MuseumBy Krzysztof Wodiczko
DEC 22–JAN 23 | Special Report
Wounded, mutilated, and dismembered by wars, ancient war sculpturessuch as these of heroes of Persian, Trojan wars and embattled mythological godsare perceived by the Museum visitors as romantic ruins of idealized antiquity, rather than as the horrifying forensic evidence of wars atrocities and as the masterpieces of war art implicated in cultural perpetuation of such atrocities through their aesthetic sanctification of armed violence.
Nuestra Casa: Rediscovering the Treasures of The Hispanic Society Museum & LibraryBy David Carrier
MARCH 2022 | ArtSeen
Because the Hispanic Society is in Washington Heights, Manhattan, it has until recently had a marginal position in the New York art world. Although its only about 75 blocks uptown from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, that can seem a long journey to the busy critic. I, at least, confess that in all my years of reviewing, Id never visited this institution. And so, right now, while the museum is closed for renovations, I came because a selection of the best works is on display. How amazing that it took me all of these years to get uptown to see the best portrait in a New York City museum, Francisco de Goyas The Duchess of Alba (1797).