~FEAR EATS THE SOUL, yes it does . . .
JAPAN REELS AS TOLL RISES AND NUCLEAR RISKS LOOM
The scene in Natori, JAPAN, reflected the paralysis across the country on Sunday March 13, 2011.
PHOTO BY: TOSHIYUKI TSUNENARI/ASAHI SHIMBUN, VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS/COURTESY: THE NEW YORK TIMES. MONDAY, MARCH 14, 2011 – FRONT PAGE.
MORE PIX – FROM THE RIRKRIT TIRAVANIJA: ‘FEAR EATS THE SOUL’ – OPENING – MARCH 5, 2011
so, of course the big global disaster in Japan that racked and reeled our world, happened pretty much one week to the day after the RIRKRIT TITAVANIJA opening. I was going to file this post – more opening nite pix – originally as: ‘blockbuster’ – but that seemed a poor way to go – after the events of last week unfolded.
I was speechless, yeah I know. too stunned to write. artlovers has many fans and friends in Japan. that red-haired girl above – could be one – the photo hit home in a most terrible way.
mostly I thought about how the greatest art – always touches the soul of the times. and sometimes literally.
how artists are and always have been shamans.
I felt overwhelming that a show that got titled: ‘FEAR EATS THE SOUL’, instead of, for example: come eat Thai soup – at my Soup Kitchen – hit a raw nerve, a live-wire before anyone knew it was all gonna blow . . . how does an artist do that – pull the magic out of the air . . . like that. just like an ole-time diviner . . .
just like SHEPARD FAIREY did. when he opened his NYC solo show at JEFFREY DEITCH last year, and titled it ‘MAY DAY’ – as in S.O.S – right smack on the cusp of that big BP oil spill.
and that’s really it – but it’s so hard to get your – modern ‘no-frills’ brain around it.
the best artists in this century – and I guess like going back forever – they do divine, not just define – our world. and that is why from the earliest times and unbelievably so even in our skeptical times – artists are shamans.
and RIRKRIT TRIVANIJA is a shaman. conceptual artist yes. shaman yes. can you put that on your resume ?
yes, the show is a blockbuster – both conceptually & production-wise.
it had the magic of ‘creative visionary architecture’ even before the events in Japan unfolded . . . . the kind of creative architecture – that leads to creative thinking that NICOLAI OUROUSSOFF is always going on about in the New York Times. it had stand-alone magic. makes-you-think bout what-you-feels magic. . . that creeps into your total knowledge without your quite stopping to wonder why or internally process.
. . . even before it had tsunami realism. this was one pit stop – that spoke to a FEAR – that absolutely manifested – after the fact.
what Rirkrit had conjured – was not just a pretty candlelight opening – he had torn down a formal white box structure and made a make-shift shelter.
a communal meeting place: with a soup kitchen ladling out free food . . . an art gallery (or ‘bank’ – more on that later), and a T-shirt shop – that both clothed and informed you – a kind of walking newspaper.
just like what could happen next: be it intergalactic space travel on the low-down or apocalyptic calamity here on earth – and, yeah Rirkrit: got it down – right.
I mean it is: a blockbuster literally.
Gavin and Rirkrit tore the entire guts out of the entire block long GBE empire. completely destroyed that white box. de-construction. down with boxes. oh yeah, I loved it. I loved it beyond the beyond. . . beyond I have words for.
even before it had a meaningful real-time context . . .
or better said: when its meaning was just in your head . . .
it’s hard to destroy that white box & still show art !! think on that.
and this installation ?- like a small movie set within a white gallery take-down, like nesting Russian folk art eggs . . .
had its very own art gallery . . . really a kind of ‘art – bank’.
a stamp-sized one albeit, a cube. but a plywood cube. and all better for it . . . all for the good.
if that art inside – comes with the plywood square it’s housed in – I’m buying the whole damn thing . . . GAVIN BROWN letters – in black – on the outside glass, and all !!
behind that back wall – a back office, of course.
and, not just any T-SHIRT SHOP – an active custom silk screen shop with like 24 choices – of slogans – to print on your shirt.
$20 a pop.
T-SHIRT SHOP: THURS, FRI, SAT. 10a – 6p. MARCH 5 – APRIL 16, 2011.
yes of course. all the slogans are political. tabloid global headlines for the alternative consciousness – even before Japan . . . took the big hit. and all of a sudden . . . these silk-screen slogans – assumed a deeper life.
THE DAYS OF THIS SOCIETY IS NUMBERED.
besides being a big player in the auctions, and back offices – Jack Tilton has also spent a lot of time in China – promoting the big $$ art game – over there. he even knows Alfredo Martinez from Alfredo’s days over there.
even has a few of his pieces.
(wonder what he thought of Rirkrit’s art gallery – Mao and all ?)
behind it all – was this great humbleness – a raw-ness – directly opposed to the original architectural premise of the gallery.
a make-shiftness . . . both in terms of an actual – emergency shelter . . .
and conceptually – from a ‘viewing’ to a ‘being-in’ . . . makeshift-ness.
a great ingenuity – that spoke both to breaking it all down, yes. and building it all up, down-scale.
from ‘elite’ to ‘communal’ – in a nutshell.
busting through – that god damn white box. I’m so tired of those white boxes.
and probably this is – pretty much, what is – gonna happen in Japan . . .
all the displaced and homeless people are going to take over whatever structures that are still standing – and will turn them into simple communal shelters.
the night of the opening – you didn’t even have that nightmare scenario – to contemplate. and, still you got it.
does Rirkrit, being from Thailand – does that give him special insight . . . into the future . . of global wipe-out.
at any rate – he is the King of Plywood – if you were lucky you also caught – the life-size apartment – he re-created, working shower and all, at GBE on 15th street – back in the day – when gentrification was the headline.
Rirkrit Tiravanija: the king of conceptional art – the shaman . . .
pre-Japan. he didn’t even know to – what exactly, was he addressing his shelter – except he seemed to see it comin . . .
the gallery’s whole front exhibition space – was no more.
in its place stood a huge open, almost entirely empty communal room – with a long communal table – on which people could eat and drink . . . and have shelter.
and maybe sleep, bring their sleeping bags. if their homes were destroyed . . .
in the communal room – there was no electric light – only candles . . .
just the way it is – in many places in Japan, now.
walking upon this unlit empty scene – for a gallery opening – was very provoking.
it was dark. only light with the flash.
FEAR EATS THE SOUL
was a way station – no matter how you cut it. a spiritual way station on the cultural grid . . .
“California dreaming I got you in a day . . . stopped into a church along the way, well I got down on my knees and I began to began to pray.” – THE MOMMAS & POPPAS
. . . I didn’t just know exactly how much of a church, my kind of church – this crazy far-out pit stop for the weary – was – and I bet neither did anybody else . . . though obviously Rirkrit knew it’s time – was coming . . . just not, exactly last week.
PHOTOS: NANCY SMITH