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Wednesday 06.02.10

« newbies | Main | First Friday Picks June 2010 »

Scarecrow at Reed College

Reed College's Scarecrow is a fantastic presentation of unconventional art that investigates the complexities of inhabiting our human bodies. Inspired by Russian philosopher Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin, and his works on the grotesque, Scarecrow gathers art that forces us to reevaluate our relationship with the uncommon and abject. Through the presentation of works such as Warhol's Screen Tests and Rauchenberg's performance Pelican, the multifaceted body is revealed while previous notions of corporeality are undone.

Warhol Screen Test video and Polaroids

One quickly gathers the depth and intricacies of bodily representation from the show. Moments often residing as afterthoughts in our image saturated media sphere, are broken down and revealed by the artists in Scarecrow. Warhol's Polaroids and video portraits demonstrate a fictional aura of spectacle while using methods associated with documentary. What results is a complete transformation of his subjects, blurring the boundaries between celebrities and the public.

Video still from a performance of Rauschenberg's Pelican

Other works approach the subject from more of an existential standpoint. Rauchenberg's performance Pelican and subsequent prints realize a mechanized body, one that is constrained by the limitations of our physical nature. In Pelican, Rauchenberg entertains a relationship with flight while his resulting series of prints Autobiography find a body built of moments in time. The graphic footage of meat production in Daniel Spoerri's Resurrection leaves the viewer torn between feelings of vegetarianism and helplessness in the cycles of nature.

Viewers watching Lynda Benglis' The Amazing Bow Wow (photo Jeff Jahn)

Scarecrow provides a spectrum of interpretation beyond the bodies carnal boundaries as well. Lynda Benglis' video narrative, The Amazing Bow Wow, stars a magical dog with oversized transgender genitalia while Sol LeWitt leaves but the slightest trace of human imperfection in his torn paper piece. These works bring about thoughts of the body's place outside itself, as a vessel for persecution and abstraction.

The show successfully realizes its goal of discovering the "ever unfinished, ever creating" body through its dynamic array of work. Each piece adds an extension to the body that informs the viewer of obvious but often overlooked realities. Furthermore, the show represents an impressive collection that belongs to Reed, providing the viewer with high hopes for the future.

On view through June 9th

Posted by Jascha Owens on June 02, 2010 at 7:06 | Comments (1)


This show begs the question again about Reed upgrading the Cooley gallery to a full museum...

Wouldn't it be great to have some of this collection on permanent display? It
would take the initiatve of a major Reed alum/collector like Peter Norton to make
it happen though... It's not like the college trustees have art as any kind of priority project so it would take someone like Norton or Steve Jobs to spearhead this with a gift of art and funds.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 2, 2010 11:52 AM

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