Friday, October 4, 2013

Demolition Woman

Chapman's Guggenheim Gallery strikes again with an attack lead by powerful women artists. How they indivudually and collectively regenerate meanings of art, materials, and truths is what makes this exhibition successful.
Young Chung is the curator behind the show itself but credits Commonwealth and Council, an artist initiated collective, for the exhibition. Much of his focus in based on bringing to light artists who fit under opressed or minority groups, and this collective provides work of a unique and often very vocal creative nature, Demolition Woman being of no exception..
Imagine yourself walking into the gallery, a large white box or a room beginning with a wall against which a large glass case displays a beautiful hand-written book, looking somewhat important due to the way in which it is presented and the formalities in which it embodies. The book is open to a page describing in beautiful letting, the names "Madam and Eve," and suddenly, the movitve is clear. This version of the holy text is reinstating two women as God's creation-the man is now unneccessary. A statement for the affirmation of lesbians as being a svalid as heterosexuals (even in the face of the Holy Bible itself!) is abundantly clear! The artist demolishesprevious notions of the authenticity of religion simply by rewriting the text.
We pass this book in its formal casing and move on the the rest of the gallery, the single room filled with pieces ranging from sculptural, to drawing, to video, to banners lining the edge of the wall as it meets the ceiling. Our eyes move upward to the banners; they are large and long and embellished with shining text sewn onto the cloth. NO MESS HOMICIDAL PICS. COLD ICON PISS CHAMMIE. OH DISMAL COSMIC PENIS. What do all these phrases have in common? How are they demolishing anything? We learn that they are in fact anagrams, the words "Mission Accomplished" radically rearranged. In the simplest of ways, this piece serves to destroy the initial wording. But is that it? I don't think so. "Mission Accomplished" is a controversy, a stain on American history provided by George W. Bush as he walked off a plane wearing the respected uniform of one who fights for America. He steals the identity of the military man in order to bring glory to himself for "winning" the Iraqi war, a gross interpretation of the rightful credit. So, these banners carry loaded words, they shame mission accomplished and destory its meaning. The mission was never accomplished.
But there's more! There is a sculpture of a melted sculpture on the floor, referencing the demolition of the initial piece and the recreation of the metals as bars of solid material, a new piece within itself. Another sculpture is raised off the ground with thick pieces of metal wire, the raised chunks of ceramic material but becoming beautiful again through means of the piecing together of the exploded porcelain. On the adjacent wall is a flatscreen, we hear a solid sound of something hitting the ground, over and over again. We watch a muddy hand fling the raw earth to the ground, never actually seeing the impact but feeling it hit the ground through the use of the audio. The hand has bright pink painted fingernails which contract starkly with the grey mud. The flatscreen is adjacent to a large photograph of a mud-covered woman, and the connection becomes clear. Like makeup, the mud is covering up our sense of beauty. Flinging off the makeup serves to better our vision of what lies underneath.
There are several other pieces that catch our eye in the gallery but some seem coded and it's hard to see their motive. I will be returning to find the key to demolition in the pieces I do not understand at first glance, as each piece I do not understand lures me into its snare with its individuality and unique character.

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