Every week or so I use this column as a space to discuss and review comics, fine art, illustration, and general nerd interest in the e-pages of VICE magazine. This is the second week in a row that my column has been about art shows. Next week we'll go back to reviews about books and crap, I promise.
I attended a preview of Nobuyoshi Araki's new photo show at the Mana Contemporary Center of Arts and it was good but also very strange. The PR email said that I'd get free lunch, which is really all they had to say. The press lady for the museum got all the journalists onto a bus and then we drove through New Jersey's abandoned district to one of the biggest goddamn art museums in the middle of nowhere. Seriously, this place is huge—like 1.1 million square feet huge.
It turned out that the preview wasn't just about Araki. We were shown three floors of stuff, each with a little speech by people who were involved with the shows. It felt a little like being at a friend's family reunion.
This was in a room of pieces that seemed to be about blurring the line between painting and sculpture. They were dull but not aggressively bad.
We looked at another room that contained formulaic collages before being allowed into the Araki show. It kinda looked like walking into heaven.
The photos were displayed in a giant room. Araki's photos are mostly of nude women, tied up or looking vulnerable. He also takes photos of lizards and flowers. He is one of the greatest photographers of all time.
I thought this was pretty.
I thought this was pretty. I heard one middle aged woman who rode the bus with me call the photographs "insidious."
I thought this was pretty. I talked to a gallery guide who, like the bus-lady, also wasn't into the Araki photos.
I thought this was pretty. I wasn't really sure if anyone involved with this event actually liked the photos or if everyone was embarrassed to be around them.
There was a little wall of miniature transparent photos. Like negatives but the colors weren't inverted.
I thought this was pretty. This is what they looked like closer up.
I thought this was pretty. We weren't allowed into this room but most of Araki's books were displayed on this wall.
I wanted to stay in the Araki room and watch the "Arakimentari" they had playing, but we were ushered to another floor. The next show we saw was introduced by an art collector who buys more art than she could ever display. This piece above appears to be a woman's pubic hair made out of black chain and its title was, Every Girl I Ever Loved Has Wanted to Be Hit. This isn't terrible, but where's the craft? This is post-Twitter art.
This combines two trends in fine art I hate: neon and a vague non-message about racism. Also, the gallery guide said he didn't think the one noose was supposed to be out.
I thought this was kind of pretty. I like images of people lying down and staring off into space though.
I saw this crazy mosaic and thought, What is that?
When I got closer I saw it was a blanket made from thousands of coke bags stitched together. This was OK but kinda felt like half an idea. Fred Tommaselli did some amazing stuff that incoroporated drugs, but he went a lot further and made prettier things.
This piece was called A Bunch of Stuff Zip-Tied Together.
This painting is by Yigal, one of the guys who runs the art center. I like it a lot. It's about eight feet wide.
This piece is also by Yigal. It's like 15 feet wide and took him a year with ten assistants. It's called Territory.
We were then taken to the Middle Eastern section, where they were showing video art pieces by arabic women. They were all very, very slow moving and boring but with some pretty shots.
Finally we were taken to our free lunches, but not before passing this dance studio, which felt more like a human zoo.
Besides the Araki show this was my favorite piece. It was by the bathrooms.
Here is the room where we ate our free lunches.
Here I am eating my sandwiches by myself. The sandwiches were very good.
Here's a photo I took of a lady next to a hyper detailed painting of her done by Yigal.
When I got back to my neighborhood Girls was being shot on my street. You can see the corner of Lena Dunham's head if you look closely.
The Araki show will be up at Mana Contemporary through August 16. The other exhibits will also be up until then. Go check it out.
Previously - Nick Gazin's Comic Book Love-In #87