Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Review: Will Boys be Boys?

[image, Pool Pushers by artist Anthony Goicolea, from IMA website]

Will Boys be Boys? Questioning Adolescent Masculinity in Contemporary Art
at the Indianapolis Museum of Art

OK, I had to see this show twice before I felt comfortable writing about it, and have in fact now seen the show three times. My first impression after having seen the show was one of bored disgust. I even thought to myself that male culture truly sucked. I mean all I seemed to be absorbing from the show was that guys are obsessed with violence, sex, sports, competition, and a culture of shallow desires. Well, maybe... But, it can't be that simplified; could it?

There was a lot to see in this show from videos of backyard wrestling, a wall of skateboards, fetish objects made from car parts and speaker boxes, numerous teen sports references, and more. The one thing that I expected to see in the show but was surprisingly absent was a plethora of bad drawings on notebook paper, a welcome omission. A whirlwind of chaos that left a bad taste in my mouth. This was not helped by the fact that one of the videos I was interested in seeing was totally non viewable do to a lighting issue (luckily I found out this was not how it was shown regularly, and it was viewable when I went back to see the show again).

All was not lost in this, my first, viewing of the exhibition. I was quite taken with a small water color by Tim Gardner, titled Beer Cans and Poster. At first glance I mistook it for a photograph, only to get closer and realizing it was not. I believe this piece is my personal favorite of Gardners work that I have personally seen, which only includes two other works in this show and the solo show that he had at iMOCA last year.

Another guilty pleasure in the show was a wonderfully dirty piece by Larry Clark titled, Untitled (Cory Haim). This piece was nothing other than three images of an adolescent Cory Haim pulled from old teen magazines, like Teen Beat, placed side by side. This simple juxtaposition of these images created a beautifully dirty, pediofilic, homage to Cory Haim, just exuding male sexuality.

Things started to come together for me on the second and third visits to this show. I started to better understand works by artists who I was not yet familiar with and had trouble with on my first viewing. This is not an easy show to take in. In fact I think this is the case for a lot of art these days. But with time I think we can get to a common ground with art works like these where a dialogue ensues. A place where the work starts communicating with the viewer on multiple levels.

Two of the works that stuck with me the longest after leaving the show was an audio piece by artist Tom Sachs, titled Toyan's Jr. (pictured left) and a video piece by artist Maria Marshall, titled Playground. These two pieces share a single room and work surprisingly well together, calming and meditative. These two pieces were my main impetus for seeing the show on a third occasion. I feel that the juxtaposition of these two art works was a smart choice on the curators part and a great entry into the rest of the exhibition.

All in all I am not completely sold on the show as a whole. In fact there are still works I dislike greatly but I have come around on many other pieces I initially dismissed. Although this may be a hard show to take in on the first viewing for some, give it some time and I am sure you will find works that you will enjoy, and some may even move you. Go and see it for yourself.

6 Responses to “Review: Will Boys be Boys?”

Anonymous said...
November 29, 2006 at 7:55 AM

......"all I seemed to be absorbing from the show was that guys are obsessed with violence, sex, sports, competition, and a culture of shallow desires. Well, maybe... But, it can't be that simplified; could it?".....

I have a soon to be 11 yr old son....on the surface, this seems rather acurate...(eek! heh!)I wonder if I took him to the show....would it be all "Cool! Awesome!" kind of comments? The Cory Haim thing would certianly get a "SICK!" remark.....Well....I've been a little curious about the show...probably ought to go see it.

Anonymous said...
November 30, 2006 at 9:04 AM

Hmm... Has anyone noticed that this show seems mostly, if not only about a white boyhood? Even to that, a white middle class one? If anything it's an accurate in that it represents who makes art.

I think Scott's first though of it being boring is dead on.

There is nothing edgy or interesting about this. Personally, I see more being discussed on CMT's Trick my Truck and MTV's Jack Ass than what's being shown here.

Yawn... this is just boring nostalgia.

Anonymous said...
November 30, 2006 at 5:00 PM

Oh great....the edge word again....talk about boring!

Anonymous said...
December 1, 2006 at 9:05 AM

Don't be afraid of one word that attempts to define something. Perhaps you're bringing more baggage to the flight than you need. (Edge)

Anonymous said...
December 1, 2006 at 11:38 AM

Perhaps....but probably not.

Anonymous said...
December 6, 2006 at 6:54 PM

Not all are white: Nikki Lee = Asian

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