24.6.10

basel and besançon

















I've just returned from a weirdly zigzag trip to Adelboden (for the mountains and the love), Strasbourg (for a show and friends), Besançon (for a show), Basel (for too many shows) and Metz (for a building and an unfortunate show). My head is chockablock full of images and languages and cheese...

A few things I'm keeping though.
At Basel I liked Haroon Mirza's piece in the Unlimited section (image above from Lisson Gallery's website). It wasn't polished but it wasn't flippant either; the sound, although repetitive, was fascinating; the space was well thought through. I want to see more of his work...















In Metz I loved Shigeru Ban's wooden structure and that flowing ice-cream lid, the building is light and spacious and airy, and I could have stayed on the small balcony on the third floor all day long. I didn't think much of the show though. I find 'masterpiece' a strangely bland and generic theme for what should be a massive statement show for the opening of a new museum. Don't museums generally aim to acquire masterpieces, or at the very least good artworks? Isn't calling a show Masterpiece a bit like just calling it Artwork? Do we really need a show asking what is an artwork? Or what is a good artwork? Now? It was super full of stuff, artists, designer, architects, composers, but not really thorough. So Renoir and Boulez and Starck were present, alongside all the usual suspects in most modern and contemporary art collections in France. I realise the show was about the Pompidou's collection, and so then became not about masterpieces in general but perhaps more about the history of collecting art, and the history of museums, as embodied by the Pompidou et al. André Malraux was represented by a portion of his library, which brought in the theoretical tenets of French museology. So if you sat down and thought about it all, it became really cerebral and dense, but ultimately no more satisfying – it was almost annoying to walk through. Just a bit of a bore. Not thorough and overwhelming enough to be the exhibition equivalent of reading the dictionary or physically walking through Harrison and Wood's Art in Theory, for example (both of which, were they actually doable activities, would make me very very happy). But then not spacious and daring and selective (SELECTIVE) and bold enough to be a punch-in-your-face POW show that a beautiful new sculpture of a museum in such an unexpected corner of the country could ultimately deliver.

But I did enjoy seeing a few things.

This, in particular:

I knew Eric Satie's composition but didn't know it was for this film, Entr'acte, by René Clair.
Those long slow-motion shots of men and ladies running and jumping in mid-air, in elaborate formal dress - totally mesmerising...



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