“When I went into advertising, I wanted to airbrush naked people on ice for a whiskey commercial, but they wouldn’t let me do that.” - Vik Muniz1
Marble sculptures, porcelain ornaments from Napoleon’s court, some vaginal flowers by Georgia O’Keefe: that’s what I expected when I walked into the High Museum this week. Although the museum’s current headliner is an exhibition dedicated to O’Keefe and several of her female contemporaries, don’t be fooled. There’s a wholly different reason to drop by the High.
TRANSactions is a diverse cross section of contemporary work from Latin America and by Latino artists living in the U.S. The Last Supper (above) is a chromogenic print of Vik Muniz’s original. He made it out of melted chocolate and wire. Irreverent and yet so exquisite, somehow the parody still shines with a kind of warm, informal piety. Muniz has a knack for unorthodox materials. He even made a chocolate Jackson Pollock.
Video, sculpture, paint… the types of media represented ran the gamut. Gabriel Kuri’s Untitled is a tapestry fashioned in the image of a Wal-Mart receipt from Mexico. It’s a bit mesmerizing. Over nine feet tall and woven by hand, the piece painstakingly documents globalization in progress. A receipt - one of today’s most mundane, disposable items. Somehow the machine process has turned in reverse: human hands mimic the product of a computer.
If for no other reason, TRANSactions worth a visit to pay homage to Ana Mendieta. Mendieta fell to her death in 1984, under curious circumstances. Her seaside compositions, spattered occasionally with a volcanic, sanguine red, highlight the invisibility that women can feel in society. The image is also a tribute to the Minoan priestess.
For such an institutional venue, I was pretty satisfied. TRANSactions is definitely one of the better shows that’s come through the High.
Both shows, TRANSactions and Georgia O'Keefe and the Women of Stieglitz Circle, run from Feb 9 to May 4.
1From a hilarious artist talk by Muniz posted here. Just wait through the foolish advertisements; the guy is pretty smart.