Gigs, dance, art

July 31st, 2008: Traces du sacré

@centre Pompidou

I didn’t expect much from this one, actually I was undecided about going until I read that there was a video from the Ann Lee series that I hadn’t seen yet. I had read the press kit, and the boast about 350 works by 200 artists made me reluctant to go. Especially in that place, I know such an accumulation can end up too much for me. Often these huge things tend to be about the curator and his views, to the detriment of the actual works. I have had rather negative experiences with these shows that are so obviously designed to be the cultural event of the year.

It turned out to be about what I expected, with the additional wrinkle that the way the works were displayed made little sense to me. I had the feeling that the curator was seeing his god everywhere and went with an attempt to cover all the bases and them some. It just didn’t work for me, as the works tended to cancel out each other. All those big names gave a textbook feel as well, and precious little stood out. Anish Kapoor’s was the one that did, easily my favorite.

Even though the last room was called The Shadow of God, that pall was the curator’s shadow. I stopped reading his words real quick because they were just rubbing me the wrong way: the piety and the Nietzsche fetish were bad enough, but his cut-and-paste were even more annoying. Lifting words to make up a sentence that fits with his beliefs and attributing that to the artist was crossing the line. So I just ignored these and the pompous names of the rooms and was reminded of pseudo-concepts; his seeing religion everywhere — I mean, the flatest reading of Karawane as a religious experience, are you kidding me? — voided his discourse of all meaning.

That Ann Lee video wasn’t that good, by the way, or maybe the setting had already made me cranky. Then there was the aggravating pretense of the last few rooms, close to presenting buddhism as an alternative lifestyle created by beat writers to expand their perception. It’s a bit older than that, and as far as I know, it’s not a drug. On a positive side, including a reading of the footnote to Howl by Ginsberg was fitting, even though I think that early reading pales in comparison to the later ones. Everything is holy! everybody’s holy! everywhere is holy! sounded right on. But why only that part of the poem? I guess this guy’s worldview is just alien to me, and his efforts to stay on message were grating.

I think I would need to go again to get another chance to see what I missed, but I don’t think I will, I don’t feel it would be worth the trouble.


August 3, 2008 - Posted by | Art | , ,

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