Reed College's Scarecrow
is a fantastic presentation of unconventional art that investigates the
complexities of inhabiting our human bodies. Inspired by Russian philosopher
, 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
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
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.