Friday, March 13, 2009

Spiritual Smurfs, poems, leaves and boobies. Get ready for Scope, Part II.

Admittedly I was left a bit perplexed by L.A. Contemporary's booth at Scope. The Fiji-born artist Adi Da Samraj (who apparently was also a well-regarded spiritual enlightenist, new age messiah and divine healer) had works on display that were at best abstract, and at worst loopy high-end productions reminiscent of Calder's wire sculptures if they met Papa Smurf. I really tried to feel something with these works, but they left me cold. Perhaps it was the slick production value of pigment on aluminum, but I just couldn't relate. If the above image WAS indeed Papa Smurf (which I was sadly informed it was not), then maybe it would have been a different story. Until then, I wish Adi all the best in the afterlife. According to Google, he met his maker last fall. Click here to view Da Samraj in action working on some of his dramatically better photographic performances.

Zach Houston had a unique concept: poetry to go. Providing a basic school in the rough in the midst of a ground zero of capitalism at its finest?/worst?, Houston's performance was a direct reference to comissioned work and arts patronage. Visitors were encouraged to engage Houston, naming a price for hire, from which he would then type out the poems on the fly. Here was an example of creativity at its finest, though it reminded me of another Oly's Musings fave--Jason Metcalf's brilliant 2007 Scope performance where he sat inside a tiny house on wheels that served as an ATM machine. A similar way of purchasing art on demand, he'd then vend the works through a chute, dispensing out his tiny sculptures. I really like where Houston is going with this. Scope can learn a great deal from these men, and I really feel this year they were truly in need of more risk-takers like this. Click here to see much better photos of Houston in his element from my newly discovered C-Cyte blog.

Ryan Wolfe's Branching System: Butterfly Hurricane at Dam, Stuhltrager Gallery was a unique installation of robotics and motion sensor technology. Appearing as tiny leaves attached to a massive circulatory system, the foliage would bat back and forth upon your approach not unlike tiny butterflies or moths. Connecting the digital with the human is always a difficult undertaking, but in this case it really worked. Wolfe's superb kinetic structure had a spiritual essence about it. For one, you almost forget the technological aspect and felt transformed to spending a day in the woods. At any moment, I could imagine one of these leaves springing from the wall and taking flight. Wolfe's structure was an ingenious way to inject nature back into such an artificial environment.

Finally, artist Karim Hamid at dFaulken, a non-bricks and mortar enterprise devoted to full gallery representation exclusively online and at art fairs. Just the concept of the "virtual gallery" was enough to bring me into this booth, but the real kicker was Hamid's hilarious paintings of Girls Gone Wild honeys in various states of disrobing juxtaposed with the shit-eating grins on the men's faces. Admidst all the glitter and beads of Bourbon Street, I couldn't help but giggle at the celebration of the truly clueless, for here is an entire generation of women brought up to celebrate their worth in flesh alone. My favorite is the piece on the middle left. Tell me that isn't Anne Hathaway after one too many tequila shots.

All in all, Scope brought it once again-- though with decidedly fewer NYC galleries represented this time. A truly international affair, what other reason could you have to visit Lincoln Center?

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