I visited Montreal again this past weekend for Nuit Blanche, which is an annual arts festival they have up there. I still am a little in shock of how much Canadians seem to value the arts, I’ve mentioned this before, and it still holds true. The two shows that stood out for me this time around were at DHC Art and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. I was particularly drawn to the photographs of Taryn Simon and the sculpture of Valerie Blass. Both of whom I had seen in magazines or on the internet, but never in person. Seeing them in person seemed imperative to experiencing the work.
In Simon’s work the image itself doesn’t seem as important as the object she’s actually photographing, and the text that works in conjunction with the photograph. In this piece the text talked about cryogenic freezing, where people pay money to be frozen as soon as they die in hopes that future advances in science and technology will allow them to be brought back to life some day. The image below is one of the tanks you could be frozen in.
Blasses work is very strange. Found objects mashed together in a conglomeration that takes formal elements, history, humor, the figure, etc. all into consideration. I like how her work gives us a sense of it’s making, or how it came together. You can kind of taste her push towards experimentation, and her strive towards making something different through strange juxtapositions, and redefining an objects meaning, or context.
I think in both there work (and maybe just in art in general) there is this element of fantasy, which is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. The idea that we can’t always live according to some objective fact, that we cope with our lives through subjective truths that result in some kind of fantasy. At the end of Taryn Simon’s exhibition there was a letter she received back from Disney after asking for permission to take pictures of something related to Disney (I imagine it was one of the theme parks).
“After giving your request serious consideration, even though it is against company policy to consider such a request, it is with regret that I inform you that we are not willing to grant the permission you seek… As you are aware, our Disney characters, parks and other valuable properties have become beloved by young and old alike, and with this comes a tremendous responsibility to protect their use and the protection we currently enjoy. Should we lapse in our vigilance, we run the risk of losing this protection and the Disney characters as we know and love them. Especially during these violent times, I personally believe that the magical spell cast on guests who visit our theme parks is particularly important to protect and helps to provide them with an important fantasy they can escape to.”