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Head 1 (1947–8), in which a howling maw seems
to devour the face in which it sits.
Beyond the obvious presence of gaping jaws,
these paintings are presented as examples of
Edmund Burke’s definition of the sublime, in
which terror is supposed to evoke an aesthetic
and emotional rush greater than provoked by
beauty. When you consider the stolid resignation
of Homer’s sailor, the naked Watson’s desperate
reach towards a nearby boat or the rough, angry
surface of the Bacon, which is a visually
stunning metaphor for cruelty to the self,
art’s ability to communicate emotional truths
becomes clear. As to Hirst’s shark, it seems
pretty and decorative in its tank, more like a
specimen in a natural history museum than an
object that might encourage contemplation of
life and death – beyond that of the shark’s.
It must have been magnificent when alive. What
a waste.
and projections playing The Meadow, The Castle,
The City and Captain (all 2007), the last of
which is the first work for which Melhus has
used actors other than himself to mouth lines
culled from, in this case, old episodes of
Star Trek. The video is replete with the show’s
campy sound effects, sets and rudimentary
special effects, which never fail to give one
the impression that the characters are being
attacked by lights from a broken disco ball.
In other episodes, Melhus redubbed scenes from
Bambi (1942) and Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
to create David Lynchian noir and absurdist
encounters. It all takes a bit of time. But
it’s refreshing to see videowork presented
this way: many channelled and variably installed
(two monitors placed at ceiling height like
they do in hospitals, a column of four others
in a hallway, a grid of LCD panels, three
straight-up projections and three single-
channel works).
(3)
I should note that roebling Hall’s installation
TArA DonovAn Tara Donovan at the Met,
makes the way other galleries present video
Metropolitan Museum of Art
appear rather precious, as if we don’t live in
a world saturated by moving images on myriad
Donovan’s installation, tucked into a rather
screens. of course this is in no way a commentary
drab gallery between the first and second
on the art, only on the fact that the white
floors in the Met’s contemporary wing (and on
cube/black box dichotomy that Chrissie Iles
the way downstairs from the Hirst), is just as
pressed into service a few years ago at the
slight. Drawing on her obsessive, labour-
Whitney with her otherwise excellent show Into
intensive use of everyday materials, she has
the Light (2002) seems even more untenable
affixed innumerable small loops of Mylar across
today, unless we’re willing to accept that the
the room’s three walls, thus creating networks
artworld, as Peter Plagens once noted (but
that recall the masses of bubbles which often
regarding different circumstances), really is
form on the surface of ponds, the cracked
the ‘poor man’s Hollywood’.
pattern of ice on a window and the accumulation
of wax into honeycombs and mud into hives.
of course, this doesn’t mean that the mini-
theatres we have to suffer don’t show some
Ideally the silver Mylar should reflect light,
good and entertaining fare. (4) ADrIAn PACI’s
giving the piece a shimmering, somewhat
second run of The Weeper (2002) at Peter Blum
disembodied presence; although on the dreary
still outshines the artist’s newest work: an
day I saw it, it seemed particularly limp. A
installation of frescoes showing storyboard
tour de force of physical effort seemingly for
scenes of family life in the artist’s home
no purpose. Easy art for a general public.
country of Albania. The three Facades (2007),
Reviews Marathon.indd 64 7/1/08 16:47:03
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