Thursday, January 20, 2011

VIP Art Fair

 The world is getting smaller every day, in almost every way. The VIP Art Fair is exacerbating this trend with leaps and bounds. Consider the possibilities of collectors, artists, students, curators, dealers and gallery owners coming together in one place (albeit a plasmic space of digital reality) to celebrate, view and connect about contemporary art.
 Art fairs have a long history of effectively creating communities who are able to connect about visual arts and other artistic endeavours. Perhaps this is the new wave of internet-integration of so many elements of our lives. The ease and advantage here is that one can attend the VIP Art Fair in the privacy of their own home, but still have the capacity to make human connections. 
  James Cohan, co-founder of VIP Art Fair in collaboration with Jane Cohan, Jonas Almgren and Alessandra Almgren was quoted on, explaining further: “For anyone passionate about art, the Fair is a transformative experience: it delivers all the excitement of world-class art fairs with the convenience and personalization of the Internet. We’ve invited the most prestigious international galleries, both established and emerging, to come together for an online event, creating a virtual community that will allow collectors, curators and the public to access distinguished galleries and learn about their artists, all with unparalleled ease and absolute discretion.”
 This "unparalleled" ease and access to works is made available by advanced video and photographic technological access to works housed within the participating galleries, which are internationally located. Additionally collectors are able to connect with gallery owners and artists with a chat feature, and video conferencing in an inagural round-the-world event.

 The internet-access art fair is free to the public, requiring registration for participation, and a fee for advanced interactive elements such as video conferencing. Early registration is strongly encouraged, and can be done at the VIP Art Fair homepage. Participating galleries include David Zwirner, Galerie Max Hetzler, White Cube, Gagosian Gallery, Gallery Kovanagi, Hauser and Wirth, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Xavier Hufkens, Fraenkel Gallery, Sadie Coles HQ, Gallery Hyundai, James Cohan Gallery, and many others. These galleries represent many major contemporary artists from around the globe.
 The VIP Art Fair opens January 22 and runs through 30 January, 2011.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Lacanian Intepretation of Maya Ying Lin's Vietnam War Memorial by Diana Flores

Maya Ying Lin designed the emotionally moving and simple “Vietnam Veterans Memorial” in 1981. She wanted the memorial to illustrate the honest reality of war. Lin set the V-shaped polished black granite walls into the landscape with a gradual descent toward the center of the monument. The names of the Vietnam War’s 57,939 casualties are recorded on the reflective panels. The way in which Lin decided to portray this memorial causes a split in the way the viewer looks at the work. The renowned theorist Jacques Lacan described these two modes of looking as the eye and the gaze. The reflective quality of the memorial undermines the eye, and the reflection of the viewer gazing back makes the viewer the object of scrutiny and deepens the meaning portrayed.

Initially the viewer approaches the memorial with their eye, rationally studying the work. As the viewer proceeds along the wall, their reflection becomes perceivable. The viewer literally becomes a part of the artwork and their reflection gazes back at them. This gaze cases a disturbance in observing the work. It reminds the onlooker that there is always something beyond their control. The memorial shows that the viewer cannot restrain war, death, or the long lasting scar of violence.

The viewer sees their reflection and recognizes that they are not whole. The eye approaches the memorial with logic, expecting to identify the monument with other honoring monuments. The eye seeks for a stable relationship between the self and the world. The gaze of the viewer however, disturbs this hope and reminds the onlooker that no matter what the eye may seek, there will always be something missing. As the observer becomes increasingly aware of their own lack, they realize the absence that the Vietnam War left in the lives of those close to the soldiers.

When the viewer feels a sense of lack looking at the wall, they immediately desire to recover what is missing. Lin used this reaction to the memorial’s advantage. When the visitor looks upon the wall, his or her reflection is seen simultaneously with the engraved names. This symbolically brings the past and present together. The past war, deaths, heroic soldiers, and mistakes are literally written on the viewer. The observer is forced to remember the soldiers’ sacrifice for their country and then desires to learn from the mistakes of the past and prevent future unnecessary wars and deaths.

Lin’s “Vietnam Veterans Memorial” design is very simple. Its psychological depth communicates the wounds left by the war. The reflective walls focus the visitor’s attention on their own reflective gaze and the names of those that died. It reminds the viewer that the sacrifices of the past are what write the present and future.