These days it’s not enough for art to just sit around looking pretty. To be noticed in a world exploding with new digital stimuli vying for our attention ever minute, art has to grab you by the short and curlies in order to gain a precious nano second’s attention. An exhibition that delivers just that and more, is the Wonder exhibit at the Smithsonian’s newly renovated Renwick Gallery in Washington DC.
The exhibition perfectly conveys the textbook definition of its title, Wonder: a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable. Each of the jaw-dropping, logic-defying, inspirational installations has one wondering a) how on earth the artists thought up and actually produced these creations and b) what on earth will artists think up next?
My favorite installation was Patrick Dougherty’s Shindig, an installation made entirely out of willow saplings. The large gallery space was tansformed into a wondrous world of fantasy where for a fleeting instance, one could forget one’s human origins and imagine an alternate existence nestled in a natural world of inexpressible beauty.
Another dazzling spectacle was the room decorated by artist Jennifer Angus. But like all the works in this exhibition, the intricate design patterns on the walls are not what they seem at first glance….
What all the works in this exhibition have in common is the immersive, experiential and multi sensory adventure that they offer museum visitors. This is the new wave, the new frontier in art and the museum goes a step further by embracing our ubiquitous image sharing culture…
The Renwick is experiencing an unanticipated flood of visitors. And no wonder (pun intended) – the lady at the information desk told us that this is the happiest museum exhibition she can ever recall!
The trend to exhibit art in unconventional and unique venues is growing rapidly and has kept pace with the desire by both artists and curators to bring Art out of the conventional box (galleries, museums and institutions) and into the public eye. Art in the Box is a prime example. One of Washington DC’s pioneers in this field – Art Whino –has spearheaded a most creative project to promote art to the large crowds at the Nationals Stadium Fairgrounds.
Ten shipping containers were converted into art spaces by replacing one of the steel walls with glass and running electricity and crude lighting into the boxes. These pop-up ‘galleries’ were placed around the Fairgrounds creating a wall of art spaces which could be seen from the street or entered through the open doors from inside the Fairgrounds. (To see a similar container project in New York click here).
A Call for Artists was sent out, reaching the ears of microWave project, a talented team of young female curators who in turn asked me to submit installation proposals for Art in the Box. I was delighted when both of my proposals were accepted. See the final installations below and read more about them on the microWave website and watch this short video clip of moi explaining one of my installations.
(For a deeper understanding of Basic Needs please click here.)
(For a deeper understanding of See Spot Run please click here.)
Installing the works was extremely taxing physically – the temperature inside these steel boxes must have reached 115 degrees! I couldn’t have done it without a team of trusty volunteers, and even so it took about three days to set up. My son Anton found himself in quite a compromising situation during the installation of ‘Basic Needs’….!!!
Art in the Box containers can be viewed through the end of October 2012 at the Fairgrounds at M and Half Streets in Washington DC. Official reception scheduled for September 6, 2012 6-8pm.