Monday, January 16, 2012

Guilty: We ate a mighty serving of arty junk food. And we kind of enjoyed it.

Johan, Matteo and I went to see the Carsten Höller exhibition at The New Museum. It was aptly called Experience, and by George did we get up close and personal with the art work. Among other things we got to ride a mirror carrousel, slide down a three story slide (which looks quite amazing installed at the Tate), wear upside-down goggles, and - had we only been patient enough to wait in line - get stark naked and into a swimming pool.

It was good fun, but was it good art? I'm not quite sure, and at the same time I'm too lazy to find out what I really think. Instead I'll leave the thinking bit to Jerry Saltz who wrote a commentary on "Museums as Playgrounds" in New York Magazine, accusing a show like Höller's for serving up a non-nutritive dish of watered down Relational Aesthetics:

"J’accuse museums of bullshit! Of ­bogusly turning themselves into smash-hit consumer circuses, box-office sensations of voyeurism and hipster showbiz. This year, the institution-­critiquing art known as Relational Aesthetics—essentially audience-participation art, often work that moves, lights up, or involves living nude beings—entered its decadent phase....Right now in New York, there’s the New Museum’s Carsten Höller fun-fair of rides, slides, and flotation tank, most of it restagings of past amusements. The show packs the house; viewers feel pleased with themselves for “getting it”; nothing provides much in terms of form, social commentary, or the willful transformation of materials. It’s arty junk food".

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