Monday, August 27, 2007

three quarters of a grand tour, installment 1.

earlier this month and with the help of countless airplanes, boats, taxis, trains and trams, i was able to see practically everything there was to see at documenta, sculpture projects muenster and the venice biennale. before embarking on this trip, i told myself i would be rigorous and disciplined. i envisioned myself in bed by 11pm and up no later than 7, ready to grab a quick breakfast en route to a gallery of some sort. i stuck to my plan... consistently got 8 revitalizing hours of sleep, with the exception of one night in venice that was entirely restless because i was convinced that my hotel room was haunted. i won't get into the scary details.

below are a few reactions, in no particular order.

mike kelly, for his project in muenster, turned a small courtyard near the train station into a petting zoo. i arrived slightly before opening, because my en-route breakfast only took eight minutes instead of the ten minutes i had allocated. but i was glad it played out that way. had i opted for a second danish, i would have missed feeding time entirely, and there is little in this world i find more charming than watching animals eating food.
this piece crossed my mind again while deplaning at gatwick airport on my return journey. going through customs, there were numerous signs informing people that there would be extra screening for those who had visited farms in the past 14 days. it occurred to me that patting mike kelly's animals might have qualified as a farm visit. i decided to try to fly under the radar, but then i realized that i was wearing the same shoes that i had on in muenster, and maybe there would be sniffer dogs that would detect hay residue or something...
luckily that was not the case.

below is an installation shot of people snapping up Felix Gonzalez-Foerster posters in the USA pavilion in venice. the woman in the foreground rolled her posters up and wedged them into the baby stroller in the background. i believe it was hers. most people just rolled them up and left, convinced that carrying a huge cumbersome tube around all day in the scorching venetian sun would be something they wouldn't mind doing.

below is a garbage cart about five minutes away, filled with the evidence of changed minds.

very reminiscent of euan macdonald's subterranean CN tower from toronto's sculpture garden, or for that matter kippenberger's metro-net ventilation pipe in muenster ten years earlier; guillaume bijl has constructed another proverbial 'tip of the iceberg' to suggest something huge and unwieldy beneath our feet.

bijl seems to understand that expensive, absurdist, faux-archaeological spectacle such as this works wonderfully in the context of the crowded, noisy, A.D.D.-inducing scavenger hunt that is muenster. sadly, it is a context that wreaks havoc on quieter, more meditative pieces such as jorge pardo's pier, herman de vries' sanctuarium or dan graham's oktogon für münster, but that might be a good reason to return next year when most of the art, but all of the crowds have left.

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