Still from Daria Martin’s Minotaur, 2009

Last week I made an overdue visit to the New Museum and am happy to report, I am now a member! The New Museum has become my favorite art exihibition space within the last year. The curators have done a fabulous job tapping into contemporary art in all of its facets, from figurative (Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton) to conceptual (Unmonumental) Currently the museum is hosting New Commissions part of a Three Museum Project, a collaboration between the New Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and the Hammer Museum in L.A. The initiative is to exhibit and acquire new work by artists who have yet to receive acknowledgement or recognition within the art community. Works that I enjoyed enormously include: Daria Martin’s, Minotaur, Mathias Poledna’s, Crystal Palace, and Jeremy Deller’s, It Is What It Is: Conversations About Iraq. In Daria Martin’s Minotaur, the artist collaborated with Anna Halprin and choreographed a “dance” between a man and a woman. The “dance” has been inspired by the 1886 sculpture Minotaur by Auguste Rodin. The resulting film presents a barrage of images that meld the bodies of the dancers, images of the sculpture, and images of Halprin herself, who is an elderly woman. The juxtapositions of the images is quite beautiful and disturbing. The slow, precise movements of the couple are both sexually charged but also have a tinge of violence.

The resulting tension is like melting butter and even in the darkened room I could feel the discomfort of the people who varied between lounging on provided pillows strewn on the floor, and those who stood leaning awkwardly against the wall. It is in this tension, that I recognized the power of the piece. Ironically my sister and her fiance were in Philadelphia that same day and at the Rodin Museum. I enjoyed the text dialogue that we had while I viewed a contemporary dimensional performance, now flattened by film, while they viewed a small plaster version of the Minotaur, a few States away.

Rainforest landscape from the Southern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea, still from Mathias Poledna’s Crystal Palace. The work references Sounds of a Tropical Rainforest, 1951 featured at the Museum of Natural History.

Also on view is Agathe Snow’s Master Bait Me, 2009
Agathe Snow annoyed me during her “selling of minutes” at the 24-Hours at the Guggenheim event, but this piece while completely made of disposable items (magazine tear-outs, cardboard, handballs), has an almost painterly presence, especially when flattened through the lens of my cellphone camera. Yet, even if painterly when flattened, I don’t agree with or understand the statement written by curatorial associate Benjamin Godsill who mentions that through “the broken shadow of her column, in its cracks and fissures that a new Renaissance—spiritual, political, and artistic—might sprout forth.” While an identifiable force in the contemporary art market, I’m not quite sure that Snow’s work has a lasting presence that would conjure up the usage of the word “Renaissance”. Her aesthetic which in my opinion references the proposed street culture made visible by the movie Kids, isn’t one that necessarily feels “real” and while somewhat believable in the museum/gallery context, I can’t help but question the genuine intention of the work. Regardless, art can’t always take ones’ breath away, but if it makes you pause or think for a moment then maybe that time spent even if in brief contemplation is memorable, even if fleeting.

New Commissions are on view at the New Museum
Daria Martin: Minotaur is on view until March 8, Mathias Poledna: Crystal Palace is on view until March 22nd, as is Jeremy Deller: It Is What It Is; Conversations About Iraq, and Agathe Snow: Master Bait Me, will be on view until March 8th