Saturday, June 25, 2011

blur sand

I visited the new exhibition, Pandora's Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection, today. All in all, it was a fairly decent exhibition - due mostly to the strong pieces. To note, it was nice to see Pipilotti Rist's piece, Sip My Ocean; Gabriel Orozco's, Socks 1 and Ball on Water; and a small collection of borrowed Cornell boxes.

Gabriel Orozco - Ball on Water (c-print) 1995

After a few rooms dedicated to themes in Cornell's work (usually exemplified by only one of his boxes) I began to notice that the curated work from the MCA collection often overshadows and even alters the read on Cornell's more humble pieces. This is made exemplary by the "The Voyeur" room - where an innocently curious box displaying a cut-out nude image of Betty Page is seen in context with a overtly loud Jeff Koons piece and a series of re-photographed images of women from pornography magazines wearing progressively less clothing (the clothing theme here is a suit). To me, this seems like the largest reach among many reaches in this show. It seems like the boxes are just a device to exhibit some of the collection. Although, Cindy Sherman, Francesca Woodman, and especially Henry Darger's works do share some common ground with Cornell's understated and private piece. In these, the sexuality is more subtle, playful, and devotional.

Jeff Koons - Woman in Tub (porcelain) 1988

Also, I have seen Cornell's boxes in museums and in reproduction where the verso of each piece is accessible. This is interesting because there is often a collage on the back side. But in this exhibition, all of the boxes are carefully backed up and secured to the wall (or in one case, laid flat). A similar approach is taken to the double-sided drawing by Darger. To fully experience a full-round piece, it seems that the artwork should be seen in the full round. (Let's not even talk about how Cornell's boxes were meant to be played with - interacted with to create an ever changing arrangement of objects and sounds.)

To top it off there was a spelling error on a wall tag:

this should read 'blue sand' (reminiscent of a recent piece by Eric Fleischauer)

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