This week at the L Magazine I’ve put together a list of the best and worst exhibitions that stretches the term “exhibition” well beyond its intended use. That’s okay; art is not easily categorized. As for reflections, this was a good year for art. A lot of much needed change is here and on the horizon. From Occupy Wall Street, to ArtPrize, to Hennessy Youngman’s youtube channel, 2011 is the year art’s started to unravel a little.
1. Occupy Museums
Occupy Museums is more of an activist movement than it is an exhibition, but they top my list regardless. Objecting to the disproportionate role the wealthy take in shaping what we will preserve of our culture, the group organized protests that included Bring Your Own Manifesto at MoMA; a séance to channel distant voices of extinct dinosaurs and a mass dinosaur die-in at the American Museum of Natural History; and a Phillip Glass-led people's mic reciting a chorus of Ghandi quotations at Lincoln Center. Brilliant!
2. ArtPrize in Michigan
Yes, I'm placing a contest in which a giant metal praying mantis was a top ten finalist in my year-end list. Located in Grand Rapids, ArtPrize’s methods of engaging the public are anything but conventional; citizens vote by phone and online to determine the winners of the cash prizes. I'm a little worried the city will elect a sparkling pig as its number one art mascot, but fuck it. This organization has managed to get their citizens involved enough in art that they are actually asking for resources that will make their votes more informed. That's already a huge win for everyone.
3. Alexander McQueen at the Met
Caring about clothes doesn't make you a pussy or materialistic but I have to wonder whether these preconceived notions kept a few friends away from that exhibit; despite penning a glowing review of McQueen's posthumous retrospective and sending several personal emails to friends, I couldn't get a single bestie out to see the thing. That’s their loss I guess, but this is the kind of exhibition you want to share with everyone, so it made me really sad that anyone missed it. No one made sexier clothing, no one combined texture, patterning, and exquisite tailoring like McQueen. Sculptors, painters, printmakers: for god's sake, pick up the 240-page exhibition catalogue.
To read the full list click here. And from the worst:
1. Rashaad Newsome's Rap Joust at Marlborough Gallery
This performance made me feel sorry for anyone within a five mile vicinity of Chelsea. The scene: a near uniformly under-qualified panel of judges vote on the best rapper. The mics barely work and a crowd of rapper friends and icky mucky-mucks drink champagne and dance. Newsome wears a crown and conducts nothing from a stage above.
There’s more where that came from here.