Review: Bernd Oppl at the Georgia Museum of Art

file uploads exhibitions Sick Building 1024x576 Review: Bernd Oppl at the Georgia Museum of Art

Bernd Oppl, Sick Building, 2012; video (still).

A new review of mine about the quietly horror-inspired videos of Austrian artist Bernd Oppl is up on Burnaway Magazine. If you have the chance to visit the Georgia Museum of Art before September 16th, the three videos form a really interesting, only slightly unsettling, exhibition.

“Inhabited” is usually a reassuring word. The works in “Bernd Oppl: Inhabited Interiors” at the Georgia Museum of Art, however, beg the unsettling question: who, or what, is inhabiting these interiors? Three short works—FlockHotel RoomSick Building—by the Vienna-based artist are being screened in silent rotation, none of which depict a human presence. According to curator Laura Valeri, the artist considers the spaces themselves as the protagonists. Continue…


Xu Bing’s Phoenixes at St. John the Divine

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On the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Chinese artist Xu Bing has installed a soaring pair of phoenixes at St. John the Divine. The cathedral of St. John the Divine is a marvelous place to visit in itself, which I only realized when I visited  of 90- and 100-foot mythical birds last week. This impressive temporary exhibition certainly makes a visit timely. The diffuse light of the stained glass and high nave form an awesome atmosphere in which the multi-colored phoenixes melt into the soft light.
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Phoenix (2008-2010) was originally commissioned for an office building atrium in Beijing, but the project and rationale changed as the artist was inspired by the poor working conditions at the construction site to use discarded materials to create the birds. Rather than reflecting rebirth as is thought in the West or luck, power, and everlasting life in China, these phoenixes speak more directly to the social cost of rapid building in China. Looking more closely, one sees how Xu carefully formed the birds out of pipe, fans, wiring, and such to create sculptures of both aesthetic and social resonance.
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More information available on the Cathedral’s website.

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Mind the Machine

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Tristan Perch is currently on his second large wall drawing at the Georgia Museum of Art. Three drawings will stretch across one long white hallway on the second floor of the museum. When the third, final drawing is finished on September 3, 2014, the wall will be painted over. In the meantime, the wall is being drawn on not by Perch’s hand, but by a machine holding a pen. Perch programmed the machine to move around the wall to create this drawing as the pen in weighted down by a clip and gravity from a long wire. The artist, who also works in electronic sound art, is interested in the balance and interaction between the code (his program for the pen’s path on the wall) and physics (how it actually manifests in the environment). It certainly takes automatic drawing to the next level, although rather than stemming from the unconscious this stems from a programmed computer chip.

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