BurnAway’s Ben Grad, Susannah Darrow, and Jeremy Abernathy follow up Monday’s post with additional mini reviews of works in the ART PAPERS Auction.
I’m completely bowled away by Ken Lum‘s combination of text and photograph in What an Idiot. In forcing one interpretation of the work on his viewers, Lum’s also invited rebellion—the pointless rebellion of a disagreement in interpretation between artist and viewer, or artist and critic. Lum’s piece has a few other compositional bonuses which I’ve sketched on the image attached [see thumbnail].
I don’t know that I like Michael Scoggins‘ About the Missing Girl. There is something about it that I find compelling enough to draw my attention despite the herd of people corralled right next to it. At first glance, the medium struck me as amusing (although after reading the title it became less so). The temporal chalk on chalkboard seems like a terrible idea, especially when placed in such close proximity to people who easily could have brushed (and erased) it throughout the night. Maybe that’s the point. The work tells the story of a missing girl who, over time, has been forgotten by most. Like the child, the work—which I’m guessing is in no way archival—is absolutely doomed to fade and be forgotten. In the end, About the Missing Girl is clever but probably not something that will make a permanent impression in its audience’s memory.
I wasn’t amazed by many of the works in this year’s auction. I suppose I’m not amazed by Laura Noel‘s photograph, either—it’s just a very good shot, originally collected in a series called ‘Deliver Me: Portraits of Smokers.’ Perhaps I’m drawn to Noel’s photograph because it was one of the few works at the ART PAPERS auction that made me want to see the entirety of the series from which it is drawn. To me, that’s the sign of good work, when one example encapsulates everything within the series’ concept but doesn’t take away from the enjoyment I get in seeing the rest of the series.
Patrick DeGuira’s work is an example of op art. The surface is completely blank, but if the viewer kneels to observe it at an angle, the phrase ‘what went wrong?’ suddenly appears in dark type. Unfortunately, the work is exhibited in contextual limbo. Like attempting to decipher a sentence in a foreign language—without a dictionary or even a clue as to what language it may be—the ‘message’ appears without the slightest inkling of the artist’s work to date. DeGuira (represented by Zeitgeist Gallery in Nashville, TN) is known for his deadpan irony and subtle cultural critique, yet in this environment, his ‘voice’ fails to reach us in the here and now. Although the buyer was visibly excited about purchasing the work (perhaps for its confrontational value, as in … WTF!?), What Went Wrong was otherwise surrounded by a cloud of whispered outrage that continued throughout the night. But even the outrage seemed fairly tame, a clue I inferred as evidence of the crowd’s overall lack of excitement. What Went Wrong, indeed.
ART PAPERS Magazine is a nonprofit publication dedicated to the “examination, development, and definition of art and culture in the world today.” Despite the harsh commentary above, ART PAPERS remains Atlanta’s only international arts publication. More images at the auction website.