Monday, 9 August 2010

Graham/Wallinger at Art21

My favorite things in Pallant House, the excellent gallery of modern British art in Chichester on the south coast of England, are a couple of small models made before its reopening in 2006. Each model is a dramatically scaled-down version of one of the principal rooms of the gallery, about the scale of a train set or civil war diorama. Inevitably, one model is of the room you’re standing in as you stoop down to look, and hung on the mini-walls are mini-versions of the works of art around you (by artists like Peter Blake, Anthony Caro, and Patrick Caulfield). Sadly, there’s no succession of mini-yous and mini-models telescoping into infinity. But here’s the great thing: all of the works are mini-versions by the artists themselves! So, peering through the Plexiglass fourth wall, you get that God-looking-down-on-His-creation satisfaction that all curators must feel when they’ve finished shuffling the pieces around with long rods, Churchill-style, in low-lit backrooms thick with cigar smoke (note to self: may need to meet an actual curator one of these days). I’ve always loved the picture — Google Images doesn’t sympathize — of Bill Rubin in his curatorial wheelchair, jabbing at little images of Picassos as his minions scamper to rearrange their placement according to his magisterial will and booming baritone (see note to self, again). Curating as an idea is a kind of intellectual board game: metonymic tokens are pushed around an artificially sequential space. Think of the similarity between the Cluedo (Clue) board and the standard museum layout. See? Like a game (and like a mix-tape, now I think of it), curating imbues its players with an inflamed sense of personal agency usually denied in social settings (I should know).

Read the rest here.

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