05 March 2013

Kelly Gellatly @ SGFA Vision Culture Lecture

A contemporary art curator from the National Gallery of Victoria, Kelly Gellatly presented a few of the challenges faced in curating modern art.  She highlighted the dilemma of landmark architecture vs exhibition interiors, a point which I fully agree having experienced the incoherent spaces within the Guggenheim New York, and the Pompidou Centre in Paris.  However, I look back to the mesmerising installations by Yayoi Kusama at the Tate Modern, as proof that great architecture and engaging spaces can coexist.

Water Wall @ NGV, Melbourne

Kelly spoke at length about the participatory nature of contemporary works, many of which overwhelm its viewer in size/colour/context.  This caters to the short attention span and social-media culture today, but I do think if not done correctly, these works will undermine the revelatory and reflective nature of art.  One quoted example was Jeff Koons' kitsch sculptures at the Versailles, where purple balloon dogs and red aluminium lobsters hang in lavish French salons.

Yayoi Kusama - Infinity Mirrored Room (Filled with the Brilliance of Life) (2011)

Another example mentioned by Kelly was Rirkrit Tiravanija's 'Untitled (Lunch Box)', a ridiculous sequence where visitors are invited to sit down, read Thai newspapers, and wait for piping-hot Thai food to be served from a tiffin carrier.  I understand the artist's intent, but perhaps I am not desensitized enough yet as a middle-class Malaysian.  Art does not play a function to remind me of the awkward time spent waiting for food to be served, nor should art appreciation be required to experience good company or a sense of joie de vivre.

Rosalie Gascoigne - Grassfest (1999)

Curating a museum has more consideration factors compared to curating a gallery, and this is where Kelly's anecdotes and observations provided an interesting viewpoint to take in.  Making art accessible while maintaining an impartiality towards artistic integrity,  is a tough job, but also an admirable one.

Gordon Bennett - Notes to Basquiat (The coming of the light) (2001)

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