Scottsdale Musem Of Contemporary Art Exhibit

This time for my April review I headed up north to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arts (www.SMOCA.org), where there’s a dizzying array of styles.  I’ve never seen such a wide variety of arts and mediums, and the building itself with all of its sharp/soft angles and curves, and various materials, is almost an art form itself.

            One of the most interesting and bizarre has to be a video performance by Joachim Koester entitled Tarantism form 2007.  In Tarantism, Koester and others mimic the frenzied spasms of southern Italian victims bit by a tarantula or wolf spider in the 16th or 17th Centuries.  Yea people, it is for real, at least it appears to be so.  The dance itself was known as the “Tarantella” and was believed to ward off the bite’s venom which caused involuntary convulsions.  What makes this video so compelling is its contemporary setting.  Similar to an Ipod commercial or music video, there are attractive participants dancing in unison, interesting camera angles and the whole thing is in black and white.  Is Koester satirizing the pop world, drawing our attention to ridiculous dance fads locked away in their own times, or just trying to bring back an old-school Italian fav?  It’s hard to say, but the performance is choreographed, outlined with it’s own moody disturbing audio “hum”, and produced with high-quality video making it undeniably both eye catching (like an epileptic seizuring victim) and disturbing.

Joachim Koester "Tarantism," 2007

Joachim Koester "Tarantism," 2007 (image source: http://www.manifesta7.it/artists/466)

            Another awesome addition to SMOCA is the Young@art exhibit which features works from high school students at the Metropolitan Arts Institute.  I think it is great that SMOCA is giving these kids this opportunity to shine and learn more about the art world.  For Young@art the students were to interpret and respond to performances from the dance center at the Metropolitan Arts Institute.  One intriguing entry is from Greta Wallace.  Her Digital photo manipulation piece called Untitled (2010) shows a girl in 3 various dance positions with clocks on her head, clocks lining the wall behind her, while she stands in 3 grandfather clocks.  I can’t help but think the connection is with the timing of the moves to the music, but perhaps there is more to this multiplicity of 3.  Perhaps it is ¾ time, or a personification of our desire to do everything perfectly in the invented mechanism of time.  The symmetry of the scene suggests they are dancing together, all the same person, yet existing in multiple frames of time, somewhat akin to cubism or futurism’s desire to see the range of human motion.  In the end, this kid obviously had fun fooling around with photoshop and perhaps that’s all that really matters.  She learned more about an art, expanded her mind and was exposed to dance and exhibition.

Greta Wallace "Untitled," 2010

Greta Wallace "Untitled," 2010 (image source: http://www.arizonafoothillsmagazine.com/travel-and-leisure/phoenix-culture/1970-local-students-imagine-dance-at-smoca.html)

            Finally there is the Brazilian artist Rivane Neuenschwander whose works follow a completely different direction.  The one I enjoyed the most was her work I Wish Your Wish from 2003.  In this work she obsessively compiles thousands of colorful ribbons with wish messages on them in several lines across a white wall.  Visitors can take one of over 10,000 ribbons with these messages and then write a new wish which they place in a hole holding the previous ribbon.  Her idea originates from pilgrims to the Church of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim in Bahia.  These pilgrims would write wishes on bracelets and believed when the bracelets collapsed off their wrists the wish would come true.  Visually this piece has a composition of it’s own with a stunning array of bright neon colors in slightly askew vertical lines.  I Wish Your Wish grabs viewer’s attention, and pulls them in for the real meaning.  Messages like “I wish I loved myself,” “I wish it was benign,” or “I wish I was a little taller” convey that though these ribbons are joyously bright and pretty, they show us our deepest anxieties that spawn wishful thinking.  Wishes are generally thought of as quixotic notions, yet their roots are pessimistic at the core.

Rivane Neuenschwander "I Wish Your Wish," 2003

Rivane Neuenschwander "I Wish Your Wish," 2003 (image source: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/22/arts/design/22neuen.html)

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