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A Visit to the Kröller-Müller

On the last day of my two-month experiment in Dutch living, I squeezed in a visit to the vaunted Kröller-Müller Museum and Sculpture Garden near Otterlo, the Netherlands. It had always been on my to-see list because of Claes Oldenburg’s Trowel I (1971-76)—one of his earliest large-scale projects—but I was also curious to think about the sculpture garden in relation to our very own 100 Acres.

The Kröller-Müller is located on about 60 acres, set within De Hoge Veluwe National Park, and visitors can either park their cars nearby and take a brief walk to the museum, or leave their cars in several locations along the park border and pick up a free bike to cycle to the museum. Taking the latter option, I started to think about the art-viewing pilgrimage—whether it’s climbing the steps of a neoclassical art temple, riding in a van across the New Mexico countryside to reach The Lightning Field, or wending your way through the IMA’s formal gardens and crossing the canal into 100 Acres.  Before the art viewing, there is the preparing for the art viewing.  Not a walk for the sake of a walk, but a palate cleanser in anticipation of a specific, intentional sensory experience.

Along this same vein, I recently enjoyed encountering several empty galleries at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. As part of its temporary program during the construction of its new wing, the Stedelijk has reopened its renovated original building with a changing installation of works from their permanent collection. Interspersed between galleries that for the most part contain single artworks, are unlit vacant spaces that are at first curious, and, upon further consideration, revelatory. These spaces were designed in part as a creative solution to the fact that the museum is still under construction—insufficient climate control, the need for light blocks for new media works—but they also provide a fascinating pause between artworks: a breath in the often-overwhelming bam-bam-bam of artworks presented in quick succession. The rooms draw your attention to the building itself—its architecture, its history, its key role in the framing of each work on display.

 

Dan Graham, "Two Adjacent Pavilions," first version 1978, second version 2001.

Most important about the darkened rooms is that they do a fine job of affirming one’s place in the world/city/building/room, urging you to consider your presence as a body in space (phenomenology, if you will). Also very successful at accomplishing this is Dan Graham’s Two Adjacent Pavilions (first version 1978, second version 2001), which is sited near the entrance of the Kröller-Müller Museum. Made of glass and steel, Two Adjacent Pavilions is part architecture, part sculpture, and its reflective surfaces frame and mirror the lush grounds, the more traditional sculpture nearby (Mark Di Suvero’s K-piece, 1972), and also your own encounter with the structure.  Entering the glass cubes (the doors were propped open), I was immediately hurtled into an unstable ground between experiencing the work and being the work. The subject/object relationship was upended marvelously, and I was made acutely aware of my own presence, the proximity of others, and Graham’s expert insistence upon his art’s integration with its context. His art is the context.

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From the IMA’s Amsterdam Bureau…

[My husband, son, and I are in Amsterdam for 2 months this spring. John is a writer-in-residence with the Dutch Foundation for Literature, I am working/visiting artists/seeing art, and Henry is doing an exhaustive analysis of each of the city’s sandboxes.]

The other day I made an afternoon tour of a few art spots in Amsterdam—my list made manageable by the fact that it was a Tuesday and many galleries were closed—and wanted to give a brief report.

My stops:

1) Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam (the museum’s project space) to see Alfredo Jaar’s The Marx Lounge, a reading room in which to peruse books by, about, or relating to Karl Marx, Marxist theory, capitalism, and post-colonialism. Jaar’s curated selection is laid out in a neat grid on a vast table, surrounded by red walls and carpet, along with couches, lamps, and neon lettering quietly humming the project’s title. As I do whenever I encounter a work by Jaar, I braced myself to be overwhelmed and to feel the enormity of that which I do not know, but should. You would think this would be a negative experience, but somehow, with Jaar’s work, it is not. I spent a while here, picking up books I wish I’ve read, browsing a few, making notes of books I plan to read, and feeling relief when encountering books I have read. Handily, the website provides a reading list, in case you’re feeling ambitious.

Another iteration of the lounge was part of the 2010 Liverpool Biennial, bringing to mind how site-determined the work is, that the reading list alters in each location, and that the social and political histories of each site, city, and nation come to bear on the interpretation of the piece. While the installation could have had a little more teeth for me if installed in a commercial gallery space, The Marx Lounge felt concise, sobering, and relevant—a plea for literacy and academicism in a time in which folks aren’t acting so literate or academic. Like all Jaar pieces, I felt like he was telling me to think and to remember. And I always appreciate that reminder.

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The Launch of Eden II

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Eden II

On Friday morning, November 20, I stood hard-hatted and slack-jawed beneath Tea Mäkipää’s ship, Eden II, as it hung from a crane far above 100 Acres, and couldn’t help but marvel at the process that turns conversations, emails, and artist’s renderings into an actual, physical, 47-foot, 8-ton object.

This rare pleasure is experienced by those involved with object– and place-making everywhere, but it was felt most distinctly by the crowd gathered for the ship launch in 100 Acres, a park first envisioned in an IMA strategic plan in 1996. While Eden II began its journey via two cranes, one barge, and one motorboat from the park’s central meadow to its resting place in the southwest corner of the lake, one could also see crews at work building the walls of Alfredo Jaar’s Park of the Laments, hear the nearby construction of Marlon Blackwell’s visitor’s center, and observe the assembly of Andrea Zittel’s fiberglass floating island by LA-based fabricators The Barnacle Brothers. At long last, 100 Acres is really happening.  Read the rest of this entry »

 

Where a Hundred Acres is 2,000 Square Feet

I’m rather disappointed to have missed what was, no doubt, the most intellectually and aesthetically stimulating several days Indianapolis has seen in a while. However, in an attempt to prove that what I was doing in absentia was even slightly worthwhile, I will give a brief report of my trip to NYC last week.

First up was the Armory Show, which brought quite a few folks to New York last week. Like many, I have a conflicted relationship with art fairs. I continue to go to them, although the experience is a manic exercise in ambivalence: one is alternately perturbed by crowds of art socialites, happy to run into people one knows (which causes one to worry whether one is posing as an art socialite), worried the art might be decent but that the context is spoiling it, and elated and relieved when encountering a few strong artworks that stand out from the huddled thousands on display. I came away with the impression that much of the art presented at the Armory was decorative and generally uninspiring, although there were a few notable exceptions. I’m a fan of David Shrigley’s work, and there were a few good pieces on display at Anton Kern’s booth, including a most clever projected animation entitled Lightswitch (2007). Ronald Feldman Fine Arts played host to a witty boutique-within-a-boutique with Christine Hill’s The Volksboutique Armory Apothecary, for which the artist worked from behind a counter to dispense personalized remedies to the sundry ailments of visitors. I also had the pleasure of seeing my friend and accomplished video artist Lida Abdul, whose work was on view at the booth of Giorgio Persano Gallery.

Of the handful of satellite fairs also going on, I made it to Pulse and Volta (whose names sound rather ridiculous next to one another) and enjoyed poking around the booths with my most esteemed colleagues Lisa Freiman and Allison Unruh.

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Pulse and Volta

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About sgreen

Job Title: Curator of Contemporary Art

Interests: Reading, post-national art and artists, preparing difficult recipes, travel, mid-century design, and vegetable gardening.

Favorite Movies: Rushmore, Kill Bill vols. 1 & 2, 7up documentary series

Favorite Music: Bonnie Prince Billy, The Mountain Goats, The Beatles

Favorite Food: Sushi, gnocchi, dark chocolate

Pets: A Westie named Willy

Something you should know about me: I was once a fairly decent boxer, but have fallen off since moving here. Anyone know of a good place?

Sarah has written 4 articles for us.