The Seduction of Galileo Galilei
20 October 2011 - 19 February 2012
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
On the ground level of a classic, brutalist, Museum building by Bau Haus trained architect, Marcel Breuer, the current home of the Whitney Museum of American Art, is a modest one person exhibition. Aleksandra Mir, and her project entitled The Seduction of Galileo Galilei, is, as a museum expo, scant because it is a lone single channel video, and a series of framed collages, works on paper that are no bigger than a sheet of legal paper. People in New York, could see, that, The Seduction of Galileo Galilei, amounts to, less than one third, the size of an ambitious Gallery Solo exhibition, in the same city.
The room, due east of elevator bank, is painted a medium crimson. The color of the walls matches a thorough brochure, respite with information about the Artist, Aleksandra Mir, her past art works contextualised with the current fare on 75th and Madison. The red wall are where the collages of Jesus and or Mary, with Spacecraft and or man made Satellites, are hung. The art, the collages are evocative of Rocket Science, yet in their means of execution, are facile. The rag tag assortment of votive pictures with paper illustrations, of parts of jets, is inelegant surrealist collage, made in 2009, rather than 1929, plain and simple.
The video component of Aleksandra Mir's show at the Whitney, is displayed in an impeccable faultless manor that, should be the new international standard for displaying current video art, if, it is not already. One wall projection that fills the whole wall: floor to ceiling, wall to wall, total video surface. An uncomfortable bench is positioned in front of this display, a designed bench, that reminds you, are a guest at the Whitney looking at contemporary art, and not a local multiplex cinema. The scene projected on the wall as screen, is a bland one with a slight twist. People, with no true, visible distinguishing attributes in, an industrial lot out of doors in Canada, a place not dissimilar to anyplace in middle America, doing some kind of physical menial labour. These people are not building a house, so what, are they doing stacking all of these used car tires? The casual filming of these "nobodies" moving stuff around, out of doors to no obvious immediate end is antithetical to all things theatrical or entertaining. However unstructured in appearance Mir's video has initially, it does bear the look of video art. The Seduction of Galileo Galilei, is an art work that the late, Gordon Matta Clark, could have potentially done, due to the fact that like many of his short films, it involves people working creatively with commonplace objects. People who say nothing to the camera, about what, and most importantly why, the cutting of a Office, or the stacking of tiers. The lack of explanation from performers, or participants in the documentation, serves to dispel any confusion that this "art work" could be viewed as documentary film, although it is a documentation of sorts. The deliberate, non entertaining affect, of The Seduction of Galileo Galilei leaves no doubt, that visitors Whitney Museum are watching an art reality, and not reality television.