Saturday, January 21, 2006

Cynthia Pachikara vs. Ernesto Neto



I like the idea of all of the local galleries being open on First Fridays from a promotional standpoint. But, as a person linked to one of them, it makes it hard to get out and attend other openings (a good topic but not the real topic of this post). That's one of the things that's great about the Herron Gallery following its own schedule and opening mid-month as it did Friday Jan. 20 with Cynthia Pachikara's interactive video installation.

When attending as part of a good-sized crowd Friday night, I was unmoved by the pieces closest to the entrance -- both exercises in dexterity more than anything. "XYZ" is a pendulum passing in front of a projection of rain on a window pane. For something much better, find the films Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp made 75 years ago.

The other piece is some blown out landscape footage projected wide and low so people have no choice but to (usually ducking) walk in front of it and cast their shadows onto it. The problem with this second piece -- which may or may not have to do with the artist -- was that most people in that area of the gallery stood and looked at this sort of nothingness that could have just as easily just been light for playing shadow puppets.

The back space rotated between a couple of pieces. One, a sort of layered video collage called "My Master is a Collector" doesn't really invite the viewer to interact as the shadow figure is already provided. I found that odd. People were again watching passively, collectively struggling to hear the faint audio that goes with the piece.

But that piece switched to another, called "Taking Place," with duel projections -- one of the Earth and one of glittering shimmers -- that created drastic changes -- solid blue revealing the shimmers -- when people passed in front of the projectors. More people were brave enough to manipulate this, with little children even getting into the mix. But then "My Master..." came along with it's prefab shadow figure and spoiled the fun as everybody stopped to watch and try to listen.

This installation made me think of Ernesto Neto's special exhibit up at IMA's new contemporary gallery. His work, similarly, asks the audience to literally jump into the work (a ball pit mounds of spongy material, etc.). Maybe "asks" isn't the right word -- and maybe that's the difference between Neto and Pachikara's interactive work. Neto does't ask. He compels. Pachikara needs the audience to participate sometimes. And sometimes not. When we do participate, glorified shadow puppets are nothing new. For adults, jumping in a ball pit or climbing a spongy mountain -- especially at a great big art museum -- is such a fresh experience.

Neto's work remains at IMA until Feb. 12. Pachikara's work stays at Herron Gallery until Feb. 18

4 Responses to “Cynthia Pachikara vs. Ernesto Neto”

Scott said...
January 24, 2006 at 3:01 PM

I stopped in yesterday to get a look at the Cynthia Pachikara show to get my take on it after reading your review here. I now feel that i may have to go back and see it again now that i have reread your review. I may be a bit confused about the backspace you say rotated a couple pieces. When i saw the back space it was labeled "My Master is a Collector" and was a large (i'd guess 15 feet in diameter) projection of the moon superimposed with what apeared to be flowers and then blue particals. Now i did not stay a long time so i am unaware if this played for awile then switched to something else. Is that what you were saying? Did something else end up showing at some point? I asked the gallery attendant if she knew how long the video loops were for each piece and she had no idea.

Anyway, as far as the moon piece goes, i was captivated and felt like pulling up a lawn chair and a bourbon and just sit back and watch. I feel that that piece in particular is something i could live with, something i would like to view again and again where as with Neto, although it is playful and interactive in a somewhat better way, will fall flat to me shortly after one sitting.

gben said...
January 26, 2006 at 2:44 AM

I totally agree with you about the Neto. At first, a friend and I went to the pink room and we were excited, but as we went through the rest the impressiveness wore off. Now, I just feel like they fell too hard into gimmick with the interactive wave. Don't get me wrong, I do feel that interactiveness with the viewer is a powerful tool, but I feel that it seemed to be the only thing I got from the grouping of work. I didn't care at all for the clever titles either.

Jim said...
January 27, 2006 at 1:18 AM

If you stick around in the back longer, it switches from the moon to other layered images that include a shadow figure of a woman. During this, we hear a poem through a woman's voice.
I liked the first piece a lot too...

Scott said...
January 27, 2006 at 2:32 AM

Hmm, i guess i should go back next week and see this other section when i am not running late for a meeting. Though from the sound of it, i am glad that i missed that part.

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