What We Feel and What We Mean
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Dia: Beacon

The view heading North was actually one of the most striking works of art I saw today.

That being said, the following are some other notable experiences.

Sol LeWitt’s Drawing Series was amazing because of the dramatic irony. In Wall Drawing #136, the viewer thinks the scribbles (arcs, straight, not straight, and broken lines) on the wall are haphazard. Which is an interesting assumption int he first place, considering that even those who don’t appreciate modern art and its ambiguous lines and shapes cannot fail to recognize that the artist very carefully orchestrated a piece. It is not just a random assortment of lines, or if it appears so to the viewer that is only because the artist wanted it to appear so. LeWitt elevates this reality by showing the viewer exactly how precise his randomness is. The writing is (literally) on the wall. Each “random” line is numbered and each sequence planned. No one sequence is repeated.

Wall Drawing #248, too, looks random. Elementary shapes drawn on a white wall. However, LeWitt also writes exactly where each shape is placed. His “not-straight” line is not randomly but rather exactly placed. He writes so finely, one could almost miss it altogether.

Another favorite exhibit of mine was Franz Erhard Walther’s Work as Action. On first inspection, the room is strangely silly. Pieces of canvas line the walls on a raised part of the floor. They are sitting, neatly folded. It’s not art. It’s not pretty. It’s not striking. Then one reads figures out this is art waiting to be made (In my case it was Maryam who figured it out) The canvas pieces are meant to be turned into art. In doing so, the viewer becomes the creator…or the art itself. When we were re-enacting the positions and formations photographed by Walther, the other visitors to the gallery were watching us with curiosity. We were the exhibit, as novel as the item with which we were “playing”. It was a pretty powerful moment. And it was fun.

Another interesting exhibit was was the strings. It’s like the emperor’s new clothes. There’s nothing there…or is there? The outline is the artwork. Or maybe the art is the outline.

My other favorite was the twisted metal sculptures. They were made of solid metal pieces crushed as one would a piece of unwanted paper. They sit on the floor as if tossed there. The in-congruence here exists in the sturdy nature of metal and the form into which it has been molded. It is treated as if it was a flimsy notepaper.

And on to Yvonne Rainer‘s dance ….um….. (I’m not sure what to call it)


Crazy as it may sound, the most amusing part of the performance was the third “act” in which the initial performer, Patricia Hoffbauer, throws a temper tantrum replete with strangled screams and a wrestling match with a coat-covered lump of gauzy material. Everyone has a moment when s/he wants to scream like a banshee and throw a real two-year old temper tantrum. I don’t know if this was the response Rainer hoped to elicit, but I found it hysterical. Startling, granted, but then, I don’t think anyone is ever prepared for a temper tantrum.

I also found Hoffbauer’s overall performance to be very emotional and expressive. When she drags herself across the “stage” in a way that suggests she is being pulled by strings or is otherwise made of rubber, she is depicting lethargy in an explicitly tangible way. She is enacting typical ballet “moves”, butchering the exaggeratedly precise and subtly energetic nature of ballet dancing in the process.

To be honest, the silent, slow motion “dancing” (or, more accurately, movement) was interesting but far too long.

To backtrack, the stage itself was fascinating because it wasn’t actually a stage. The performance was on level ground. In fact, the only elevated object was the stands on which the viewers sat. In a funny way, that makes the viewers the viewed. They are raised on a stage, not the dancers. I cannot guess what Yvonne Rainer meant by this, nor do I think I am qualified to understand her piece in its entirety.


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