I'll give you advance warning that this is a bit of a lengthy post, but it's image rather than text heavy. I was a busy bee this past weekend, because as well as attending Ash's sex toy party, I also went on yet another Chelsea gallery tour with my building buddy Betsy.
I was in two minds whether to go as it was teeming with rain early in the morning, but by noon it had abated signifcantly, so we took a risk it would stay that way. Unfortunately it didn’t, it got worse, much worse. High winds and rains pounded down on Manhattan later that day and as we ran from gallery to gallery the streets became wind tunnels. Very wet wind tunnels, we were all bent double trying to hold our umbrellas against the elements. Happily mine held out, but others weren’t so fortunate and the odd umbrella carcass littered the streets. I didn't enjoy the art on this tour quite as much as the last one, but I'm still glad I went.
The first exhibit we saw at the Lombard Freid gallery on West 26th St. It was called RMB City, by the Beijing based artist, Cao Fei. It’s a virtual city created by the artist via her avatar, China Tracy, on Second life. The gallery was set up to resemble a real estate office with a model of the city in the centre of the room and photos of the piece hanging from the walls. They also had a computer set up where you could explore the piece in Second Life. Below is the picture of the model for the city which I nabbed from the gallery site.
The real estate angle was because you can buy buildings in RMB City. Yup, you can spend your hard earned first life cash on a virtual building you can never live in.
Interested in making a purchase?
Well, the gallery said that prices are negotiable, but start at around 10,000 Euros (approx. $15,400) for a small space to around 135,000 Euros (approx. $207,300) for the whole thing. Below is how the city will look on Second Life. It's pretty cool looking I think.
Personally I don't really get the whole Second Life thing, First Life is complicated enough. I did register and played around with it briefly about a year ago, but I couldn't get into it and I had awful trouble making my avatar fly. I had to laugh when I read a story about a group of Second Lifers who got together to form a group of freedom fighters/terrorists to resist all the retailers that were developing Second Life stores. If I call correctly they took a bunch of American Apparel shoppers' avatars hostage in protest.
I liked the digital images of this work that were hanging on the walls and I loved the model, but I'm not so interested in the whole virtual angle of the piece. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer something tangible for my sideboard, however the tour guide, Rafael, reckons this is where art is heading, especially with the generation of children who learn how to use a computer before they hold a pencil.
Next up was Andrea Mastrovito, an Italian artist exhibiting at the Foley Gallery. These were beautiful collages made entirely from tissue paper, held in place by pins, since any kind of glue would damage the fragile paper.
The artist was apparently inspired to use tissue paper - I believe he doesn't usually work in quite such a fragile medium - by an essay by Edgar Allen Poe where Poe discusses the need for transparency in the writing process. The tissue paper supposedly represents transparency in the artist's creative process. An excerpt from Poe's poem, The Raven, is also posted on the wall of the gallery.
If you look at the images below you’ll see there’s a black plastic bag, which is common to each piece. A "unifying element" apparently. It's often used in a disturbing way, to cover the head of the man hanging from the tree in the first image for example. In the second image of Pablo Picasso at work in his studio it represents the bag of tools Picasso used in his work.
Afterwards we walked down 3 flights to the Priska Juschka gallery to see an installation piece, Yardsale, by Jade Townsend, an inside out house, entirely made of wood, taking up the whole gallery space.
What you can't tell from this tiny photo is that you could walk around the back and inside the house where there's an earth floor, with a picket fence in the centre and stars hanging from the ceiling. Inside-out y'see. It was a pretty cool concept I thought. The artist also stopped by to talk about his work and answer our questions. If I am remembering correctly the work is a comment on American consumerism and how we have so much stuff in our lives that we don't need, hence the scatteredness of the stuff from inside the house. He seemed fairly young and had a very sweet way about him. He came across as very humble and touched that we were interested in his work. He won me over when a guy asked him who he expected to buy a big piece like this and he laughed and said genuinely "who would buy THIS?"