Friday, December 17, 2010

Clue: Art World Version

Part of "Solve the Art Forgery" area at The Magic House, St. Louis.

I've been feeling pretty guilty about not going through all the images I took in Miami two weeks ago (the warm weather seems long long ago and far far away), but the image above, taken during a recent tour of The Magic House, brought me back to my senses.

The Magic House is a great, rambling children's museum run by Beth Fitzgerald and her team. I laughed out loud at a lot of the inventive elements of the Museum, particularly the art whoddunit that included a secret sliding bookshelf and a tube to slide between floors.

The panel above lays out the various suspects in a forgery case, with a CSI-type set of clues leading the kids down the path (evidently the Nanny was looking guilty to that day's kids). The signboard made me wonder: what are the "types" in the art world that are guilty, or innocent? Below are some of the types I found in Miami:

The dealer: This work by Mounir Fatmi was at Lombard-Freid Projects. I've worked with Lea and Jane over the past decade because of our common interests. I loved Fatmi's combination of Muslim prayer rugs with hip hop culture.

The jokester: Gimhongsok's bronze trash bag dog is part Jeff Koons, part mourning of the way we treat other species as throw-aways. As a Korean I assume the artist eats dog--it's on many menus there--so garbage is in the eye of the beholder.

The pioneer: Sam Durant has created numerous bodies of works that dig into influential, if deliberately neglected, episodes in American culture, such as the Black Panthers' resistance to racism in America and the colonization of this continent by white settlers. These three fallen soldiers are funny and somehow deservedly buffeted historical figures.

The entertainer: Judy Wethein's lovely video of a Colombian group singing the American national anthem with their own localized additions was charming, and sad, a little clowning bathos to sober up the frenzy of the fair.

The criminal: Need I say more?

These were but a few of the types I met at the fair.

The ones I like the best are the agitators, the artists who press us to answer questions about why we're here, what we've done and why we're not guilty.

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