Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Museum Visit......

To help with the planning of the groups exhibition, the lecturer asked us to visit a museum to get a feel for how the whole thing is arranged.

I researched what the current exhibitions in London were and decided to visit the Gabriel Orozco exhibition at the Tate Modern as his works looked very appealing.

The artist was born in Xalalp, Veracruz, Mexico in 1962 and emerged as an artist during the 1990's
The exhibition guide reads..... Gabriel Orozco's art belongs to an age in which people, images and commodities are no longer rooted in a single geographical location, but are continually on the move.

The artist himself is equally at home in Mexico, New York and Paris, and regularly makes and exhibits work all around the world. The result is a remarkable diversity of approaches, each stemming from the artist's focussed response to a particular place and time.

"I'm not inventing, just reinterpreting" Orozco has said. He will take up existing objects and alter or reconfigure them. Familier items are transformed or placed in a new context, often with a keen understanding of the wider associations they carry.

Even as I approached the Tate Modern, striking posters advertising the exhibition were placed some distance away from the building. These were to bring in 'passers by' who may be teased by the image and poster. One of Orozco's signature pieces, the 'Black Kites' skull was being used as branding and was a theme carried through all the promotional items.

As I approcahed the Tate Moderns massive old pump buiding you couldn't miss the fact that Orozco's work was being exhibited, his name was emblazoned on the building in huge text and giant banners fluttered outside.

Once inside the building I purchased my ticket and made my way to the 4th floor where the exhibition was taking place.

You couldn't really lose track of where his work was being displayed as even the 'signposting' carried his name.

Once on the 4th floor, I approached the exhibition with some excitement as the posters and spaces leading to the entrance were flooded with his work. the whole entrance door wall had been screen printed with one of his photographic pieces 'Island Within An Island' 1993 and a short video presentation on the artist was playing nearby.

Me outside the entrance to the exhibition

Once inside I made a concious decision to ignore the actual works at first and concentrate on how the exhibition had been arranged and structured.

A series of nine adjacent square and rectangular rooms had been acquired for the exhibits. The walls were all white washed and the floor was a light coloured polished wood.

Lighting was provided by the museums flexible ceiling grid and rail system meaning the curator Jessica Morgan alongside Orozco, could light the works to their best effect. Generally speaking, there was a soft ambient light being used along with spotlights directly lighting some of the pieces.

Lintels 2001

Broadly speaking, the works and rooms were laid out in dated sequence, 1990 to 2010.

An introduction to the artist and the exhibition was the first thing you see as you enter. This introduction and the details of each work adjacent to the piece were not mounted on boards but had been directly transferred to the wall in mid grey print.
Some works had been grouped in themes whereas others were presented individually to increase their impact.

One piece of work that was particulary interesting from an exhibition point of view is Chicotes 2010. This is a work of tyre fragments collected by Orozco along Mexican highways for years. The pieces are then laid out according to the individual space they are to be exhibited in. This means that the work as it appears in New York for instance would differ from the London piece.

This peice was being lit both from a single line of spotlights along one long side and the galleries tall thin windows on the other toward one end. I noticed that the artist had placed large pieces of solidified molten aluminium on some of the tyre shreads near the widows. I believe this was to further emphasis the way the natural light from the windows interacted with the work.

Another piece, 'Carambole With Pendulum' 1996 engaged visitors by nature of the way it could be interacted with. Orozco had taken a French version of Billiards played on a table with no holes and substituted the regular rectangle table with an oval. A red ball is suspended from the ceiling on a thin wire and once swinging, just skims the tables surface.

Snooker cues are provided so visitors can try their hand at the game making up their own rules.

After leaving the exhibition, I visited the gift and book shop. Both had Orozco related items on sale including books, t-shirts and postcards. The gallery had made maximum use of the exposure and had placed the merchandising right at the entrance to the shops.

Communication of the message:

The fundemental point of any exhibition is communicate a message. This can be achieved with images, sound, lighting, arifacts or more usually a combination of them.

The 'message' is of course subjective and what means something to one visitor may mean something completely different to another.

From a purely personal point of view, the principal message Orozco's work conveyed to me was that of how he interacted and modified his environment by taking everyday out of their natural context. This was achieved by altering them sometimes subtly but more often radically which gave them a completely different purpose.

The layout, exhibits and lighting made the exhibition an enjoyable place to be and I really enjoyed my visit. Although I don't have a smartphone, the gallery had provided an interactive guide which would of bought each piece to life a little more.
This was available at www.tate.org/go/orozcomobile.

Further information on the artist and exhibition can be found at: http://www.tate.org.uk/modern/default.shtm

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