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Viewfinder: Untitled (Last Light) by Felix Gonzalez-Torres

by Bianka Pineda Felix Gonzalez-Torres was once described to me as a giving artist whose art is about love.  When I came across his piece “Untitled” (Last Light) in the Walker collection, I understood how apt this description is.  The object itself is very simple; a set of 24 low-watt bulbs on a string, something […]

by Bianka Pineda

Felix Gonzalez-Torres was once described to me as a giving artist whose art is about love.  When I came across his piece “Untitled” (Last Light) in the Walker collection, I understood how apt this description is.  The object itself is very simple; a set of 24 low-watt bulbs on a string, something you might see at Christmas.  

"Untitled" (Last Light) by Felix Gonzalez-Torres

"Untitled" (Last Light) by Felix Gonzalez-Torres

The association with Christmas lights is not far from the effect it has in the gallery: the soft light warms an otherwise cold and sterile environment.  Currently the string is hung ceiling to floor in a corner that includes a window within the exhibition Absentee Landlord.  The light is at once reflected, offering life to the mute gallery space, and, at the same time, shining out and connecting to the world beyond the museum.  The second part of the title, (Last Light), could be an allusion to the practice of lighting a candle in remembrance of a lost one.  The light may be a reference to the artist’s own mortality (or even the viewer’s) or to Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ life partner, Ross, whom he lost to AIDS and included in his works of art.  Knowing the importance Ross had in the artist’s life, it’s not hard to imagine that the warmth of the lights is imbued with Gonzalez-Torres’ unrelenting love.

You can find another work by Gonzalez-Torres currently on view at the Walker in the exhibition This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s. The piece is called “Untitled” (Perfect Lovers). You can see an image of it on the MCA Chicago’s website.

About the author: Bianka Pineda is a Walker Art Center tour guide.

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Viewfinder posts are your opportunity to “show & tell” about the everyday arts happenings, interesting sights and sounds made or as seen by Minnesota artists, because art is where you find it. Submit your own informal, first-person responses to the art around you to katie(at)mnartists.org, and we may well publish your piece here on the blog. (Guidelines: 300 words or less, not about your own event/work, and please include an image, media, video, or audio file, and one sentence about yourself.)

Viewfinder: Experiencing Cunningham Through Your Own Body

by Susan Rotilie Last Wednesday evening a group of 18 people joined tour guide Lucy Yogerst and me for a tour of Dance Works I: Merce Cunningham/Robert Rauschenberg. It was a tag-team tour in which Lucy and I shared our enthusiasm for the installation of costumes, sets, videos, and artifacts that are part of Walker’s recent acquisition […]

by Susan Rotilie

Last Wednesday evening a group of 18 people joined tour guide Lucy Yogerst and me for a tour of Dance Works I: Merce Cunningham/Robert Rauschenberg. It was a tag-team tour in which Lucy and I shared our enthusiasm for the installation of costumes, sets, videos, and artifacts that are part of Walker’s recent acquisition of the Cunningham Dance Company archives. We told stories and viewed objects related to the long and rich collaboration between the choreographer Cunningham and artist Rauschenberg.

In the end, however, it was clear that the typical gallery experience of looking at displays and discussing them lacked the vitality and life the objects had originally embodied when part of a performance. So, what did we do? We took a risk that is not usually part of our tours.

Suggestions for Movement (p2)

Inspired by a gallery guide written by associate director of education, Susy Bielak and research fellow, Abigail Sebaly, along with a tour plan for high school students developed by tour guide Marvel Gregoire, we invited our group to channel Cunningham, Rauschenberg, and their third collaborator, composer John Cage, to create a performance piece together. We focused on a response to Rauschenberg’s’ set piece Tantric Geography for the 1977 dance Travelogue. The work is a linear sculptural composition incorporating Duchampian bicycle wheels with chairs facing different directions installed diagonally across the gallery space. Five volunteers stepped up and they were asked to isolate a small gesture inspired by a word such as curve, tilt, twist, or arch (or not). They moved along the set piece, pausing, turning the direction of each chair, and repeating their gesture. The rest of the group, inspired by John Cage, provided a sound scape of voice- and body-generated “music” to accompany the dance.

We may not have reached the level of art or dance of the artists inspiring us, and our only audience was the gallery monitor Ann Norberg, but the experience was kind of magic and our tour ended with applause, laughter, and camaraderie.

Maybe you think sound making and movement in the gallery is reserved for school kids, or you feel unprepared to break out of your own inhibitions; however, in the case of the Dance Works exhibitions, alternative ways of experiencing the galleries seem to be called for. Moving beyond simply looking and talking about objects to a place where the art is experienced through our bodies and spirit leads to a new level of engagement with these artifacts, and an in-your-bones understanding of the rich collaboration from which they were created. And you don’t have to be a dancer or part of a guided tour to have this experience. The gallery cards with suggestions for moving through the space in Dance Works I are free for the taking right inside the entrance to the Medtronic Gallery. Come on….get moving!

Viewfinder posts are your opportunity to “show & tell” about the everyday arts happenings, interesting sights and sounds made or as seen by Minnesota artists, because art is where you find it. Submit your own informal, first-person responses to the art around you to katie(at)mnartists.org, and we may well publish your piece here on the blog. (Guidelines: 300 words or less, not about your own event/work, and please include an image, media, video, or audio file, and one sentence about yourself.)

Viewfinder: Kids on Robert Therrien

By Emma Cohen At our April Free First Saturday event, we asked kids what they thought about the artworks in the exhibition Lifelike. Here is what some of them said about one of their favorites: Robert Therrien, Folding Table and Chairs Pick one word to describe this work of art: Huge. Why? It isn’t tiny. […]

By Emma Cohen

At our April Free First Saturday event, we asked kids what they thought about the artworks in the exhibition Lifelike. Here is what some of them said about one of their favorites:

Robert Therrien, Folding Table and Chairs

Pick one word to describe this work of art:

Huge. Why? It isn’t tiny. –Becca, age 6

Interesting. Why? The artist looked from an interesting perspective, and it made me feel as if I was very small. –Noor, age 10

Giant. Why? I picked giant because the table and the chairs look like a giant could sit on them. –Ahlea, age 7

 

Tell us if there is something you don’t like and why.

I don’t like that we want to sit on it [and aren't allowed to]. Because I think that it would be really fun to sit on it. –Oslbar, age 10

I feel too small. –Niyema, age 7

It reminds me of giants. I do not like giants.—Katherine, age 7

 

Make up a story about this work of art…

One day in a forest far away, two giants had a basket of food and couldn’t find any place to eat. They walked and walked until they found a giant table and 3 chairs. They said that this would be good and sat down to eat. The End. –Oslbar, age 10

Once upon a time there was a table and chairs and then I turned very small and I liked being very small , so I stayed like that. The end.—Jacob, age 6

Once upon a time there was a man named Robert Therrien. Robert Therrien saw a giant crying. He asked him why he was crying and the giant said, “I don’t have any chairs or table.” The man gave him some chairs and a table. –Alhea, age 7

 

We’re collecting young people’s thoughts on art all the time. What does your child have to say? Come visit the Walker, pick up an ArtThink worksheet, and let her tell us what she thinks!

 

Viewfinder posts are your opportunity to “show & tell” about the everyday arts happenings, interesting sights and sounds made or as seen by Minnesota artists, because art is where you find it.  Submit your own informal, first-person responses to the art around you to katie(at)mnartists.org, and we may well publish your piece here on the blog. (Guidelines: 300 words or less, not about your own event/work, and please include an image, media, video, or audio file, and one sentence about yourself.)

Viewfinder: Walkaround Time by Terrence Williams

These seven wonderful soft plastic boxes are stage furniture Jasper Johns made for a dance performed by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in l968.  The dance, choreographed by Cunningham, was called Walkaround Time. Music for the performance was written by John Cage.  The whole project was an homage to Marcel Duchamp –a friend of the three artist collaborators. The […]

Walkaround Time

Walkaround Time, 1968, Jasper Johns, Image courtesy Walker Art Center/Right Art © Jasper Johns/VAGA, New York, NY

These seven wonderful soft plastic boxes are stage furniture Jasper Johns made for a dance performed by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in l968.  The dance, choreographed by Cunningham, was called Walkaround Time. Music for the performance was written by John Cage.  The whole project was an homage to Marcel Duchamp –a friend of the three artist collaborators.

The idea for the dance emerged from a conversation between Cunningham and Johns on an evening when the two were guests at Duchamps’ home.  Johns suggested that Cunningham could construct a dance using images that were based on parts of “The Large Glass” that would be disposed in various ways around the stage.  They asked Duchamp if he would go along with such a translation of his painting.  When Johns said that he would do the work, Duchamp agreed.  Duchamp asked only that at some point in the dance the furniture should be seen with its parts related in the same way as in the original work.  Johns supervised the manufacture of the pieces, painting images from “The Large Glass” onto these soft plastic boxes, and changing the dimensions to make them capable of being free-standing and moveable on the stage.

The dance title, Walkaround Time, derives from the term computer scientists coined for the time it took their huge early computers to boot up, time they could use for other work.  A linkage between Duchamp’s “Large Glass” and the modern computer?  What do you think?

 

About the Author: Terrence Williams is a writer and honorary Walker Tour Guide. He resides in St. Paul, MN and Santa Monica, CA.

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Viewfinder posts are your opportunity to “show & tell” about the everyday arts happenings, interesting sights and sounds made or as seen by Minnesota artists, because art is where you find it.  Submit your own informal, first-person responses to the art around you to katie(at)mnartists.org, and we may well publish your piece here on the blog. (Guidelines: 300 words or less, not about your own event/work, and please include an image, media, video, or audio file, and one sentence about yourself.)