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  • Joel Brown
    writes for the Boston Globe and many others.

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June 06, 2010


Katherine Myers

The work you attribute to Alyson Shotz is actually Tobias Putrih's Re-Projection Hoosac inspired by the Hoosac Tunnel in North Adams. The Shotz piece is in another gallery and has line strung across the length of the gallery but the lines have lenses on them.


Enjoyed your Mass MoCA review. I've not seen the current shows, but having seen Coyne's work here and there over the years I suspect your take is pretty right on. Especially the Cousin It part. And liked the final "Gallery 5 won this round." Reading elsewhere about that installation, it just sounds like an expensive + lame inside-baseball one-liner. But until I see it, um, I'm trying to keep an open mind.



I have to say that I completely disagree with this blog entry. I think in order to really understand conceptual and contemporary art, you have to have the background on the artist's thought process and the story behind each piece. TAKE A TOUR. They're free with MoCA admission and are incredibly helpful in allowing yourself to awe at the conceptualism and detail of each piece.

Petah's goal in her show is to bring us to the reality that death and beauty are always linked. She borrows the styling of the Baroque period where everything was over the top and flaunted. Her pieces reference friends that have passed away, Dante's Inferno and September 11th. As far as Eguchi's ghost goes, when the Japanese story: "House of Sleeping Beautys" was made into a performance, they asked Petah to create Eguchi's ghost. What you see in the space was the costume she created. HoSB's is about Eguchi, an old Japanese man who is struggling with traditional Japanese ritual that as a final right of passage, a man is supposed to lay in a house full of unconcious women. The ghost serves as his concious and his direction through his decision. Her pieces are dramatic, yes, but that is her style. Art can't be boxed into things that you or me, as individuals, can understand on a moments glance. The point of art is that it is thoughts, feelings, etc made tangible. Sometimes, it takes a little explaining, and that's ok.
Petah's labels her art pieces in chronological order as to when they were made. It has nothing to do with pretentious "art world blabber." It's just how she likes to label her work.
Contrary to popular belief, artists aren't constantly thinking about hidden meanings and "all up in their head." Sometimes, its just as simple as she likes to remember what order she made them in. Boom.
Moving on..
Lets talk about "Gravity is a force to be reckoned with." If you've ever read the book 1984, or WE (which is like a pre-cursor to 1984, made in the 1920's) you would have a better concept of this piece. (Which can all be explained on a TOUR)
In those books, there is the idea of a distopian future. The people are being controlled by an outside force, and there is only a few people who take notice. The idea that it is swallowed by the large space is because Ovalle really wanted you to discover things as you moved closer to it. Yes, when I first saw this piece, I was completely underwhelmed, but hearing about it on the tour really, really helped. As you move closer to the house from whatever entrace you decide to happen upon it, you start to notice things like the door is ajar, the cup is on the "floor" (ceiling) and there are scribble drawings all over the table. You start to realize that you've come upon something that isn't right. You start to think that you've come upon a house that someone has just left very quickly and you're left to put together the pieces. Meanwhile, the phone rings and video comes up of people. They say things that if you don't know anything about the piece, you wouldn't understand. But what this piece is getting at is the same thing that the books 1984 and WE are getting at. What is the world that we are controlled by? Are we so comfortable in our glass house of society that we don't know the way we're being controlled? Is technology (hence the iPhone) moving us forward or holding us back? The cup on the floor really represents the anarchist from 1984. It's the one thing in the house that makes you start thinking, "hold on, this isn't just a house flipped upside down. there's something happening here. What happened here?" The piece is incredibly mind-consuming. It forces you into a deep thought about your own life and how you've been "droning" through.

In reference to the "red ropes." It's a piece called "Big Boss" by Orley Genger. She's commenting on the historically man-dominated art form we like to call minimalism. She's this tiny little woman who knotted (By hand!) the 100 miles of rope you see in that space. You come upon a beautiful red linear wall of rope and then notice the broken side wall... walk a little farther and see an overflow that almost looks like lava on the other side. She's showing how minimalism doenst have to be like its tradition: steel, concrete, square. It can be flowing and red and made with differing materials. She's really showing you the difference between classic minimalism and "Orley" minimalism.

I think that everything in the MoCA galleries are worthy of their space. Like I said earlier, going through with a tour guide was the best decision I made. They're free with gallery admission and make ALL THE DIFFERENCE. They know what they're talking about, have a lot of knowledge on the pieces and are more than willing to talk to you about the pieces you can't quite grasp or answer any questions for you.

I encourge you to go again and give MoCA's summer shows another chance.

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