Theanyspacewhatever-stravaganza! pt. 1
Robin, myself, and my good friend Cubby went to the Guggenheim museum this past Sunday to see the exhibit theanyspacewhatever. The exhibit is a sort of survey of/comment on art as dynamic process that often utilizes audience participation. This genre of art (if you can call it that) is also known as relational art. Check it out on Wikipedia if you feel (I did), but I guess you kind of need to be there and experience it for yourself (yuk yuk).
I’d like to talk about one work in particular.
The piece that spoke to me in this exhibit was Rirkrit Tiravanija’s piece entitled CHEW THE FAT. The Guggenheim talks about the piece as a documentary film, but really it was the presentation of the film that made it worthwhile. In order to watch the film, my cohorts and I had to remove our shoes to enter an orange-carpeted room with several TV sets, pillows, and headphones (pictured above). This settling down in front of the set to watch with whomever you came with (or whomever was there), reminds me of scenes like this:
Tiravanija exploits the myth of images like this one of the TV set scene as a site of togetherness and intimacy. Tiravanija asks us to enact this image when we enter his exhibit. I’m not sure that his piece made good on the promises of togetherness that the TV set image puts forth.
As Cubby, Robin and I watched collection of short interviews of different artists and their friends talking about their work or the work of others, I wondered if the film’s content mattered. I liked hearing a woman talk about her band Big Bottom, an industrial outfit composed solely of 5 bass players, but I don’t think that’s why I enjoyed this piece. Watching others “chew the fat,” allows us to abstain from chewing it ourselves. And yet it was such a nice, intimate experience! Cubby and I smiled at each other at the mention of “Big Bottom,” just cause it was funny. I enjoyed sitting on the floor on that garish carpeting because I was doing it with other people. Some kids were taking naps, and a couple was talking quietly to one another while most everyone else was just watching. I don’t really want to admit it, but there appears a certain truth to the novel image of the family in front of the television, bonding without talking. Maybe that’s false togetherness, but maybe participating in that staging of a cultural phenomenon is just thoughtful enough to make the piece meaningful.