Monday, January 28, 2008

Contemporary Art at ICA

Yesterday, at the request of a reputed sculptor from Chengdu, China visiting with us, we went to ICA (The Institute for Contemporary Art/Boston). My husband had heard that the building was an amazing piece of architecture, so we were all eager to go.

When we arrived, I was, at first, a bit disappointed, because from the front the building is unremarkable. However on the fourth floor, where the galleries are located, I was utterly attracted by several works.

One was "1st Light, 2005," a projected digital animation by Paul Chan. The moving silhouettes that are projected onto the floor – flying bicycles and other materials, in contrast with falling human figures appearing at intervals – gives an odd yet long-lasting impression. According to the description I read afterward, this work is a post-9/11 parable of politics and religion. The rising material and falling body reversal characterizes our era.

Another piece, a blanket made of pins painted black gives a deceptive soft and downy feeling. I had an impulse to touch it as you would at any soft and warm object. This irony between the thorny actuality and soft appearance fascinated me. I thought about borrowing this approach in my writing. I was so totally absorbed that I forgot to look at the title, artist name, or description of the piece.

The material and appearance contrast (apparently many artists are going in this direction) is also evident in a work by Cornelia Parker. I was surprised to find out that the hanging objects were charcoal. It turns out the piece is titled "Hanging Fire."

Louise Bourgeois' room-size spider is dominating and instantly recalls Kafka (my husband said Men in Black). I would like to know if it was influenced by "The Metamorphosis."

And we found out what was unique about the building's architecture: the back part of the 4th floor hangs in the air, sticking out over the bay waves. Looking out from the window the sight is peculiar.


jessica lipnack said...

X, take a look at this:

First time I saw Bourgeois's spiders - totally amazing work - was with my artist daughter who educated me that they have everything to do with her mother. And like most women artists, her work was largely ignored until she was quite old (even with early success and she's still alive, I think). The pin piece is by Tara Donovan, I believe. Very interesting work, hers.

Xujun Eberlein said...

Thanks for the link, J. And you have a knowledgeable artist daughter!