Friday, April 2, 2010

Slash: Paper Under the Knife

By Brooklyn Bill

Yesterday evening, I went to the Slash: Paper Under the Knife exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Design on Columbus Circle. Overall, I enjoyed the show a great deal, particularly those artworks that were architectural in nature or explored the human face or form. A few of the pieces underwhelmed me, but several were stunning.

I wanted to crack open the display case and bring home Saraben Studio's Solar Topographics so I could turn its pages and get my eyes right down next to it. It's described as a book-bound, three-dimensional "architectural plan for an observatory that overlooks the ruins of the Palpatine in Rome. The building also functions as an eternal clock and calendar, tracing the passage of time in light and shadows that change throughout the year. Steps represent the days and months, stones represent minutes, and lines stand for seconds." Awesome.

I was also quite taken with Alex, a life-size sculpture of a young man who had flatlined on the operating table while battling cancer. After he recovered from his harrowing experiences with the disease, Alex asked the artist, Oliver Herring, if he could be the subject of one of Herring's sculptures, and he said he wanted to be naked so his surgery scarring would be visible. Alex consists of hundreds of colorized photos that Herring took during several meetings with Alex and then cut and applied to a polystyrene form of Alex's body. The final result is an amazing achievement that, despite the vibrant coloring, almost convinced me I was getting to know the real Alex. The photo is one I took of the page on MAD's Web site that lets you zoom in on Alex's face, neck, and shoulders. On that same page is a video interview of Herring.

I was moved by Ed Pien's Night Gathering, which he based on one of Jacques Callot's etchings in The Miseries and Misfortunes of War, and by Anne-Karin Furunes's photographic images of faces that have various-sized holes in them. As seen on the MAD Web site, Furunes's works may not seem like much, but in person, they're quite captivating.

I'm unfortunately keeping with my recent tradition of blogging about things on QNY when it's almost too damned late for you to experience them yourself. Slash is closing on Sunday.
Fittingly, on an evening when I was heading to the MAD museum, I passed Bryan Batt, previously of TV's Mad Men, on Lexington Avenue while heading back to my office to grab something I'd forgotten on my desk after having just grabbed a quick dinner. Both he and his companion, whom I didn't get a good look at, were in suits. Batt looked very snazzy.

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