contemporary art, exhibition, Porto

A Meditative Visit

1 Liam Gillick, Factories in the

Liam Gillick, Factories in the Snow, Serralves Museum

A large room, flooded by light on the day of my visit. A black Yamaha baby grand piano in the middle, isolated: no bench, no pianist. On the floor, some black dust: was the piano planed down, was its varnish grated, is the dust made of shavings? A melody plays by itself: a vaguely familiar air, obviously played as if by a beginner. Then, after a slow walk down the long access ramp, a closer look: the piano keys are automatically pressed and released, one by one, and, in fact, there is an electronic control unit that commands it all. The –presumed– artificial black snow on the floor does not melt, the –supposed– pianist is not here. As for the audible melody, it is a clumsy interpretation of an emblematic tune of the last European revolution, which took place here, in Portugal: the end of an era, the end of a great hope (even if the air is still sung in Portugal: the government is sometimes “Grandoled). And, to boot, a lozenge of light on the wood floor, and a pretty, smiling museum guard. Continue reading

contemporary art, event, exhibition, Paris, performance art

Olympia is Looking at You, or “Who’s Afraid of Deborah De Robertis?”

1 Olympia

Édouard Manet, Olympia, 1863 & Auguste Clésinger, Femme piquée par un serpent [Woman Bitten by a Snake], 1847

Olympia dares to look at us. This is the real scandal: she is looking at us. This unworthy woman, showcased only to be glared at, sister to the nude featured on an Orsay Museum poster inviting the public to come and look at nudes with their children (26 years after the famous Guerrilla Girls poster which was taking to task the Met Museum), is looking at us. So passive, her desirable flesh ready for the taking, she should not have any agency, she should not be soliciting… And yet she dares to look at us in the eye, she dares to face us, brazenly, immodestly, defiantly. One day, maybe, we will have her, as they say, thanks to our charm –or rather our money. But we won’t own her: possessing her will be more akin to submitting to her. Continue reading