HOME   |  


JUNE 9, 2009   

MOCA opening night hits & misses

Last Friday Joanne and I went to opening night at MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland) for two shows, Maos and Cows, and There Goes the Neighborhood. The first is an interesting collection of work—mostly prints—by modern masters like Andy Warhol, Chuck Close, Sol Lewitt and others. Good show, go see it.

The second "explores the evolution of communities here and abroad." With a couple of exceptions I found it to be less interesting, particularly the "new media" aspects.

Headphones hanging on white gallery wallIn one gallery a pair of headphones forces you guess at their purpose, then rewards your curiosity by making you stand conspicuously straining to hear the individual voices without any supporting labels or explanations.

I was one of the few visitors that tried them on, and gave up quickly because I could barely hear anything and there was no volume control available.

This unimaginative use of audio misses the mark on both technical and aesthetic grounds. Across the gallery a more ambitious video project tried harder but still fell short.

As you approach it you see a full-sized front porch on a simulated house. You're invited to sit on porch furniture and watch a video of Cleveland neighborhood sights projected onto a screen that covers the front of the porch. So you're looking out at city life (the video) from a front porch. Not a bad concept, but it doesn't involve or intrigue you. Once you get past being impressed at how nice a job they did building the house front and porch you're left watching a movie with seemingly no plot or characters, just scenes.

The good stuff

Visitors immediately took pushpins and marked their homes on one or more of the maps.

Most of the obvious "art" in the gallery seemed, well, obvious. Much more successful was a very low-tech participatory piece in the corner gallery. Just inside the door, four large maps maps were pinned to the wall: county, state, U.S. and world. A box of colored pushpins and a small sign invited you to mark where you were from on the map(s). Simple, immediate, fun, and both interesting and understandable.      

 mouseover images to enlarge ->

The clotheslines were quickly filled with notes from people of all ages.

On the other side of the gallery was the invitation "Air your community laundry" above rows of clothesline strung in front of the wall. On a table in the middle of the gallery were pencils and cards preprinted with thought-provoking questions like "Tell us about the animals that live in your neighborhood" and "Seeking a Great Neighbor. Must be..."

More artistic than most, the message hits an urban sore spot: noisy neighbors

The responses ranged from humorous to poignant. Most were written by people who obviously loved their neighborhood, but frustrations and disappointments came out too.

A quiet neighbor isn't all you want, but sure does help.

If you live with houses less than twenty feet away on either side of yours, as I do, you would love to be able to do what this questions asks: run an ad describing a "great" neighbor. A common theme that runs through many of the notes is inconsiderate, noisy neighbors.

Top   |      |    AddThis Social Bookmark Button



2007 April-December

2008 January-December

2009 January-March

Video icon Video  Audio Audio

2009 JUNE