When you recommended visiting the Lygia Clark exhibit I thought what I have thought in the past when you recommend an art show: this will be good. Of course it might be the recommendation sets up my expectation to like the show. Usually these shows are in New York and I’m usually just happy to be back in New York and going to museums there, something my parents did with me since I can remember.
All that aside, the Lygia Clark exhibit was what I most liked in the MOMA the day I visited in July. I actually tried going to PS1 figuring when Bianca and José came to visit they would want to go. (That never happened.) But it was a Monday I think and forgot that they´d don´t open on Mondays. Wait, Tuesdays and Wednesdays they don´t open. It was Tuesday. So I never got to PS1.
The best thing about getting my MOMA membership – aside from them calling me a Baron (Why do they even have that option on their website? Are there really that many barons around still?) – is avoiding the lines for bag-check. You get VIP´ed right into this short line to the left of the bag check entrance. Then they just scan the card and you´re good to go. I´ll miss my MOMA membership, really. In 2015 I´ll wait in line with the rest of the unwashed. I´m only a baron on paper after all.
I actually hadn’t really slept. I can´t remember why. So I slept a little in that area in front of the movie theater. They were showing a film called Flotsam Jetsam by Patty Change and Dave Kelley. The film was good but so was sleeping, so I did a little of both. Its Freudian allusions seemed to naturally lull me into a preconscious state. People were floating on water, constructing a boat meant to resemble a submarine, and skyscrapers.
I saw some other stuff on my way up to the 5th floor were Lygia Clark´s work was being held. The MOMA´s kind of like an Ikea. It feels set up so that you´re trapped looking at furniture you had not even planned on considering. Like you can´t just walk past the central exhibit. I´ve never been able to, even if I´m totally uninterested in what they´re showing. Luckily the Sigmar Poke curator had decided not to label the art. I know you like this kind of thing, like the Isabella Gardner Museum in Boston. While I like the concept on paper, it´s too much for a retrospective. I mean it was too many rooms. I felt lost without my little guides and didn´t really like the pieces or at least couldn´t find a way to engage with much of it. So I left after looking at the weird cut-out-connect-the-dot FREE paper guide to the exhibit. I kept the paper guide. Not sure why. FREE?
I also looked at the second floor architectural room. It was very crowded which felt unfair. Usually no one goes to that room. And it´s a respite from the usual throngs of tourists. There´s never ever anything on the third or the fourth, so it´s just a turn and you´re on the fifth floor. THere was an exhibit yet to open and adjacent was the Lygia Clark exhibit. There was a film of her speaking projected on the exterior wall. It was an early film of hers, black and white and in glamorous Rio, with an attitude nothing like glamorous Rio. She´s talking about dreams and art.
I watched the video until I reached the point where I had started. It required a lot of patience but I liked what she was saying and intrigued, not so much by her dreams, but her prediction that art could happen without the personality of the artist. Unlucky for her they decided to show a movie about her own retrospective at the beginning of the exhibit. So in that sense we´ve not given in to the autonomy she predicts.
The exhibit begins with some geometric abstraction on paper, I think. In Brazil it seems like there´s so much of it. Every museum has got their geometric abstraction collection. So I just skip those. I can´t really get into paintings lately anyway. It feels like whenever I see a contemporary artist doing canvas I´m thinking moustache, you know like, they´re making a case for this forgotten pastime. But what do I know? I just consume this stuff and by consume I mean view. Not sure what else were supposed to do as museum-goers.
The exhibit text describes her insterest in lines, or her contemplation of the line. (Contemplation? Feels trite. Oh well.)
I started noticing in I guess the second or third room that the walls of the exhibit mirrored Clark’s interest in line. I had never seen this experimentation to mirror a technique employed by the artist. I took a few pictures for you.
Why can’t they let you take pictures of everything? I didn’t come all that way just to see the show and forget about it (I was in four of five boroughs just to get there, nearly all-city). I guess that’s why people drop a hundred bucks on the catalogue. I would by it, but transport art catalogues- that is, living outside the country indefinitely with art catalogues is a doozy.
“Bicho” means animal in Portuguese. That’s what Clark called these sculpture although the curator calls them “sculpt-objects”. I think “sculpt-objects” make more sense. These things don’t feel very alive. You were allowed to move them. It was hard to tell though. I could see how these could be therapeutic for the artist and the viewer as well – if only I weren’t surrounded by guards in seven story building made of windows.
This last stage is maybe what most interested me. I had really no expectations of what this exhibit would be or who Lygia Clark was. Oh wait, I did. I had seen the movie which created a kind of authentic version of Clark in my head. I saw her playing with a inflated plastic bag that had two white ping pong balls floating around in it. They had some of these therapeutic items in the last room. Some were pinned to the walls. Like this one.
This was what I most liked in the exhibit. In reminded me of when as a kid they would have us do Augosto Boalian (not incidentally also Brazilian) techniques. I never noticed the techne in technique before. Well they are techne in the Foucaultian sense. But to quote the late poet Chris Toll, ¨Why Is the If Cult in Difficult?¨ The Boalian ¨games¨ get rid a lot of the tension we are all used to walking around if.
Not sure if I can see objects as liberating. Even the objects on display were divided into those you were allowed to touch and those you couldn´t. Myself and few other people were scolded by the some hybrid of guard-curator, who was in charge of monitoring our free-wheeling therapy experience.
Now if you left us alone in that room, maybe something else would happen. The disappointment followed me out, while on the other hand I felt like I did something. I saw the Lygia Clark exhibit, like you suggested.