Sunday, October 13, 2013

Looking at Art

Sign outside the gallery. There was a life
sized sculpture of WeiWei inside made out
of cardboard... wish I got a photo but I
forgot my camera. All i had was my phone.
Free time is hard to come by these days... I've had a tough time getting downtown to see the Ai Weiwei show at the Art Gallery of Ontario,  even though it's been on my list of things to do since long before it opened. But, as it closes soon, I had to take a day and just go...  and while there I took in the David Bowie Is exhibit as well. Might as well, since my weekends seem to fill up pretty quickly and who knows if I'll have time to get back. I will if I can... it was a very interesting show that certainly deserves a second look. Both exhibits were great, and the gallery was as full as I've ever seen it. Quite a few time slots were even sold out (timed entry tickets to make sure the people actually get to see the exhibit and aren't just herded through like cattle. A good plan... but even at that the Bowie exhibit was too crowded in spots to take a good look at the items).

It's not the norm to have the gallery host two large exhibits simultaneously like this. Interesting to put a conceptual/activist artist like Weiwei and a performance artist like Bowie on together. I don't know if this was planning or coincidence, but it was interesting to compare and contrast the two shows. Both were about expressing personal vision and pushing boundries, Weiwei's being political and Bowie's being social norms and gender stereotypes. I've thought about it, but couldn't seem to find much else to connect them. I'm probably missing something.

I think my favourite part of either show was looking at David Bowie's creative process. I knew there would be notebooks and such, but there were some of his tools as part of the display. A video on his "verbasizer" shows how he uses it to generate random lyrics, which he then reworks (or not) to fit a mental image. There is also a set of Oblique Strategy cards, which I've seen before, and found intriguing. Definitely techniques to file away, to be used in the event of a creative block.

Outside the gallery I noticed a proliferation of street art that I haven't seen in Toronto in a long time... especially since the current mayor took office. In fact, Rob Ford has declared a war on Street artists. Odd, considering the current popularity of some well known artists like Banksy (who is in New York at the moment, doing a "residency"). I'm hoping to get back downtown in the next couple weeks with my camera, to get some photos before everything has been completely removed. There were a few spots that were really quite beautiful.

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