Adrian Searle discusses what is profound and what merely entertains at the Hayward Gallery's Light Show
. This is a difficult line for light and space artists since they are are generally bounded by the conventions of stagecraft and architecture. The difference I feel is the better light and space artists are extremely rigorous thinkers and among the most demanding art practitioners out there. Robert Irwin
, the brightest human being I've ever encountered comes immediately to mind (apologies for that pun). He doesn't just show the viewer some pretty lights... he gives the viewer a chance push their perceptual powers to the limit. This makes the work demanding.
In related news, Paul Sutinen... who infamously interviewed Irwin at a Burger King in Portland considers the way that artist's trademark disc piece is displayed at the Portland Art Museum to be a kind of vandalism
. It is true, that presentation of one of the best pieces in the collection IS horrendous (a hangover from the still overcrowded Buchanan era install that needs thinning and more sensitivity). Installed correctly (as it once was) it is a stunner. The over-installed nature of most of the museum's collection is a MAJOR drag on the reputation of an otherwise rapidly improving modern/contemporary program at PAM (Rothko, Beuys, Mike Kelley, Sigmar Polke & Bruce Nauman just last year alone). Can we fix this? This sort of thing is what many design professionals in Portland consider a major turn-off at the museum. PAM's Jubitz Center is due for a major reinstall. (Perhaps what's been holding all this up is the fate of Ed Cauduro's collection... which is likely the only chance to fill in major gaps in the collection from the mid 60's to the late 80's ... and to have Ed take his rightful place as the greatest art collector in Portland history.) Portland has grown up a lot in terms of the viewer's expectations and overall sophistication level and everyone is simply demanding a lot more of the way work is presented.
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