Exhibition Inquisition

The stuff you look at, but don't see.

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Kenneth Anger Inspiration

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Matthew Dear’s Her Pleasure Music Video

A month ago, my best friend took me to the Treasure Island Music Festival.  To prepare, I bought glitter (to throw at strangers) and checked out the lineup.  I was dying to see The Presets, whose new album Pacificahas been on a constant loop in my life.  The Gossip was also performing.  I’m a huge fan of Beth Ditto (video involves vogueing), but had never seen their video for Move in the Right Direction. It made me scream: “Barbara Kruger!” within the first ten seconds.  Okay, Kruger doesn’t have omnipresent claim to ALL use of bold text in black, white, and red, but the video is undeniably similar to Kruger’s installations at L&M Arts, her elevator at LACMA, and basically her entire oeuvre.  At least The Gossip creative team was clever and animated the Kruger-like text: cheeky things like “guitar solo” flash during a bridge, and the words “fadeout” appear at the end of the song. Cute.

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Rashid Johnson: Message to Our Folks

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Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago

Rashid Johnson, “Self Portrait in Homage to Barkley Hendricks,” 2005.

Why is Self Portrait in Homage to Barkley Hendricks not included in the MCA’s current Rashid Johnson retrospective, Message to Our Folks?  The photographic work is included in the exhibition catalogue, and MCA curator Julie Rodriguez Widholm writes that it is perhaps Johnson’s “most understood work.”  The work is an illustrative example of both Johnson’s “dialogue with black American creative and intellectual figures whose impact has transcended race” and his “dialogue with modern and contemporary art history, specifically abstraction and appropriation.”  Both these quotes are from the curatorial statement on the MCA’s website.  True, other self portraits (some of which engage in appropriation and cultural and intellectual figures) are in the exhibition, but they don’t compare in my opinion to the stark and confrontational Self Portrait in Homage to Barkley Hendricks.

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