Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hals Cures What Ails Ye

I went to NGA yesterday to visit Franz Hals' paintings and to check out Thomas Cole's The Voyage of Life cycle. Not because of his great painting cycle, but because of the captions that he wrote which were very...oh, what's the word...dripping with sentiment. I went to see how these texts - posted next to each of the four paintings- functioned with the paintings. There is also some audio that goes along with it, but I didn't take an audio guide.

I had two conflicting thoughts:

1. This could be a good model for the Flashpoint show, however the overtly poetical narrative isn't really what I am after. However, the fact that Cole provided these narratives collapses the experience of viewing and thinking about what you're viewing. I anticipated this, but haven't considered that textual information is prioritized over visual information for knowledge. The irony, for me, is that text is largely apprehended by looking. There are other factors at work at NGA that I won't be dealing with. For instance, the color of the octagonal gallery is very dark green; the frames are gilded, and for some reason this makes the paintings less present. They get swallowed by the room.

2. How is the experience I am going to make at Flashpoint any different from the experience one can have with the Cole paintings? What do I have to offer my little contemporary art chapel that will both critique this idea of superfluous context and offer a resolution/realization, or even some kind of new experience that won't immediately be likened to the Voyage of the Magical Canoe?

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