Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Frances Stark Review - Michael Canavan

I went to the Francis Stark gallery in the MIT List Visual Arts Center on Veterans Day. Because of the holiday, I wasn't sure if the exhibit would be crowded with fans of Francis Stark or empty, with people finding others ways to entertain themselves on their day off. It was the latter. I was pleased because I felt that I could take my time to study her work. And I did have to study her work to try to understand what she was trying to say through her art. I'd like to start off by saying that for the most part I am not a huge fan of her art. What I am a fan of is her creativity. One of the pieces that I am ashamed to say I liked was the "Cat Videos." The "Cat Videos" are a collection of videos that Stark took of her cats in her home. She added different pieces of music to go along with what the cats are doing in each scene. The videos are shown on a television hanging in the gallery as if it were a piece of art. While I hardly consider it art, it does keep your attention. I didn't watch the whole thing but watched a good 5 minutes of it.

One thing that I noticed about Stark's work is that she uses birds in a number of her pieces. The first work that you see when you walk in the gallery is of a parrot standing on a branch. That is all the the work contains. No background images or colors, just the parrot and the branch. It still is an incredible piece of work and will grab your attention. This, along with her other works with birds in them are the works of art of hers that I appreciate. I liked how she used a collage of printed text from various articles to give the branch shape and definition. I don't know what she was trying to say through this piece. Was she trying to say how digital technology is overtaking the printed word in today's environment? Or maybe she was just making a piece of art with no hidden message. I don't know.

One piece that I liked (and I am sure many others liked as well) was "The Inchoate Incarnate: After a Drawing, Toward an Opera, but before a Libretto Even Exists." It was very creative of her to look at an old rotary dial phone and see in it, the image of a woman. What I get out of the work is that Stark believes that many people are addicted to modern technology (mostly cell phones) nowadays. A great number of people deal with others through emails and texting instead of talking to people face to face. Don't get me started with people on the bus talking loudly (cell phone) for all to hear.

The final piece that I really liked for its creativity was the PowerPoint presentation: "Structures That Fit My Opening." Just like the "Cats Video'" it kept my attention for a few minutes. It's sound effect could be heard at various points throughout the whole gallery. I heard them as I first entered the gallery and, at that point, I had no idea from where they were coming. Although the presentation itself wasn't as creative as just the idea of the work, I did enjoy watching it for a few moments. What I did like about it was that once the presentation concluded and started again, the presentation was different. It was not the same every time.

The gallery was smaller than I anticipated which was a little disappointing but I still enjoyed myself while there. For the most part I liked most of Frances Starks' work, aside from one or two that annoyed me. I won't discuss the pieces. I'll just say that I don't like "works of art" that have items of clothes hanging from them. Other than those pieces, I really enjoyed my time at the Frances Stark gallery.

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