Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Year Zero, an Art Lesson

Before the winter got started completely, I got a membership to a few things. One was a website that gets me free or discounted tickets to things around New York City, mostly on recommendation of a kinkster friend I met in town. The second membership to the Guggenheim. This felt to me like a very good idea at the time. Granted, on a recent trip to Chicago I had renewed my membership to the Art Institute, which was of course worth every penny, but I figure I also need a museum in New York. I’ve yet to make it to the MET. I’m sure I really should, but I have Chicago. It will always be my favorite collection.

My membership at the Guggenheim, among other things, gets me a guest pass and invitations to special events. I do love a good special event. And so it was that one of my first special event treats for the Guggenheim was an After Dark event that would allow me to see the exhibit showing called Year Zero at a special members-only showing with a bar and music.

I like bars.

I like music.

And I could bring a date for free.

“Want to go to the Guggenheim?”

“Okay, for what?”

“After Dark art event.”

“Sounds good, sign me up.” Hellion manages to be a good date, showing up on time and we grab dinner and a few drinks before heading off to the show downtown.

The Year Zero movement absolutely fascinates me. It is, in my interoperation, a beginning of the post-surrealism movement and into more contemporary modern abstract where art begins to break some very interesting boundaries, moving away from a visual interactive experience, to one where the audience is invited to interact in a 3-D motion, sound, and movement experience. It’s really a fascinating movement where artists did all sorts of things, using mediums like sand, color, motor engines, light and fire. One of my favorite pieces in the exhibit was a fire painting that was created as the artist held a flamethrower while an assistant stood nearby with a hose, wetting down the canvas so that it would not go up entirely in flames. This was such an amazing thing to see, really beautiful how the burning patterns worked into the canvas. The thing is its entirely intentional, not just random burning because it can be burned but trying to make something interesting and meaningful.

We get to the exhibit and head straight to the top to watch the light shows, but they were not yet lit and I was getting antsy. A helpful usher spotted me trying to leave.

“No, it starts again just any minute. Just wait.”

I want to move out, start to make for the exit but Hellion pulls me back and urges restraint and before he can say anything the lights begin to move again. The lights move up and down, fixed motion against paper, a constant moving. What fascinated me more, though, was not the mobile light show on the paper, but the shadows it cast upon the walls. It seemed almost a different kind of intent, art not just in a single fixed time in a single fixed contraption, but art that makes its presence known in a multidimensional environment, transcending space and time. Exquisite, fascinating.

Many of the exhibits included light shows that played out internally and externally making a shadow and light spectacle of the rooms in which they were stored. It fascinated me to stand and watch the interplay. There were pieces that also used the light and reflection off of mirror surfaces, that explored the interplay of shadow and light on modular pieces that could move. There was one exhibit with a rolling script directing the viewer to action with imperative commands. A perfect introduction to the Guggenheim, really.

“I don’t think I understand any of this.”

“That’s okay. You don’t really have to understand it. Just think about it. What does it make you feel?”

“I’m not sure.”

“That’s the thing with art. I can sit here and tell you all day what an artist maybe saying, but what I have learned from being an artist is simply this: what the artist intends and what you perceive are never the same thing. I go on feeling and instinct and try to figure it out from there.”

“I get it.”



It was a glorious time.

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