Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Carsten Holler at the New Museum

I wanted to like this show.  I really did.  I wanted to like this show because I wanted to finally like a show at the New Museum.  The New Museum is such a lovely place.  The staff are nice, the bookstore is great and the building is stunning.  The only problem with the New Museum is that they have a bad program.  They are the anti-Dia.  Where the Dia Foundation would do wonderful show after wonderful show that you would repeatedly visit, the New Museum is the opposite.  You go there and you never want to go back.

This is because the Dia Foundation was built on Minimalism while the New Museum was founded on some of the small little tendencies that followed; most notably Institutional Critique and now Situational Aesthetics.  So what we get is the worst of the Octoberist aesthetic that proudly makes art a drag.   Last year I remember a truly horrific show based on the theme of the newspaper.  That show had Whitney Independent Study Program written all over it. 

For this show, the Museum decided to join forces with German
Carsten Holler the scientist turned artist.  Predictably we get the museum turned into not an amusement park as advertised but more like the “Exploratorium.” Pseudo-science is cloaked in the Minimal/Post-Minimal armature.   Flavin, Smithson,  Nauman, Haake, Asher, are among the sampled.  I went on the big slide.  It was fun.  But Six Flags will always be more thrilling.  Not even close.  So what’s the point?

Art cannot compete with the spectacle of every day life. 
It is completely impotent to do so.  The slide was the best thing in this show.   Every thing else was a pastiche of other people’s ideas and sophomoric.  The curator Gary Carrion-Murayari ably tried to engage the small group he was leading around the exhibition, but when he let out that Holler had built a similar slide for Miuccia Prada to go from her office to her car we knew the jig was up.  Marcia Tucker was then spinning in her grave.

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