“Inside the museum, infinity goes up on trial. Voices echo, this is what salvation must be like after a while.” A part from this somewhat irrelevant Bob Dylan quote that took precedence on the exhibitions brochure, and the tenuousness of the statement “A common expectation we have of art in museums is that it should stand the test of time. This exhibition, on the other hand, highlights works – or aspects of them – that purposefully court impermanence” (which really has nothing to do with their perceived value or longevity), the premise of the new show up at MAM is good.
The element of ‘spectacle’ has for sometime now been creeping into the vocabulary of contemporary art and so it is nice (for want of a better word) to see it finally addressed in Miami in such a direct and complimentary manner. One thing that struck me, however, is that the show had way too much work in it. Not only were there something like fifty artists on the bill, but each room in addition seemed stifled by itself. As such, many works were regrettably swept under the ‘peripheral carpet’ in the search to get to the good stuff. Moreover there seemed to be a very clear division between that which was immediately interesting and that which was not. For the most part we fear that this partition can be expressed as two categories: commissioned work and permanent collection – with the exception of Regina Silveira’s Escada Inexplicavel 2, (Inexplicable Staircase 2) 1999.
Apart from the exhibition’s feature light-works, Guilloche, The Blind Man by Matthew Schreiber, and Western Sun by Mark Handforth, whose warming yet apocalyptic visage is a pleasant, appropriative beginning to the show, highlights for me include Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova’s door installation, Kerry Phillips’ carpet cross-section sculpture, Bert Rodriguez’s haunting fluorescents, COOPER’s Abraham Lincoln tunnel/video amalgamation, and Tom Scicluna’s wall.
Tom Scicluna in particular possesses the increasingly rare ability to make work (sculptures) that engage the eye, the body, and the mind with incisive wit and visual sophistication. His skewed wall, whose deception is aided further by the hanging of a Bruce Conner on it (a refreshingly bold move on the part of the museum), is happily right in line with the subtle visual symphonies that we have come to expect. This work is undeniably awesome and very well done, though for me the distortion could almost have been even more slight.
Worthy of mention but for all the wrong reasons was Olafur Eliasson’s Five Fold Sphere Projection Lamp which, contrary to the majesty of some of his other pieces, looked like something you could pick up at IKEA. And generally the show, aside from having fleeting moments of brilliance, felt over curated and under edited; a further reason why Eliasson’s piece, which demanded a room all of its own, was a particularly bitter pill to swallow.
This exhibition runs June 6th through September 21, 2008.
For more on MAM, including events and the permenant collection, please visit: www.miamiartmuseum.org