billed as a ground-breaking exhibit, mash up: the birth of modern culture at the vancouver art gallery would feature mash up strategies employed by 20th century artists such as picasso, marcel duchamp, jean-luc godard, andy warhol, keith haring and more. it would also be the first time an exhibit would take over the gallery. 371 works by 156 artists, filmmakers, musicians, architects and designers spread out over all four floors. 3 years in the making by 30 curators. that’s what hooked me.
i know i can be hard on our cultural institutions in vancouver, because of the much more amazing things i’ve seen and experienced in cities like new york, san francisco, LA, london and paris. i still view vancouver as a “big small city.” whenever i hear someone rave about our culture offerings, i can’t help but to think that they need to travel more.
so i was très intéressant when i read about the set up and the works to be featured at mash up: the birth of modern culture.
the floors were organized by themes:
floor 1 – the digital age: hacking, remix and the archive in the age of post-production
floor 2 – late 20th century: splicing, sampling and the street in the age of appropriation
floor 3 – the post-war: cut, copy and quotation in the age of mass media
floor 4 – early 20th century: collage, montage and readymade at the birth of modern culture
it was a mix bag. there were a few neat things, a few ok things and lots of meh things. i felt a little duped when the sign outside loudly advertise a work by quentin tarantino, and then it turned out to be just a reel on repeat with a couple scenes from kill bill. same with william burrough with one of his book being displayed, plus 3 recordings. or jean-luc godard’s pierrot le fou and 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d’elle being screened, as well as, one U2 video and one brian eno recording. but the VAG did include works by jean-michel basquiat, jeff koons, andy warhol, marcel duchamp and keith haring, which was good.
here are the things i really liked:
another mountain man aka stanley wong’s exhibition featuring those ubiquitous red, blue and white striped plastic bags commonly used by asian people to store items that they’re hoarding. using these multipurpose striped bags, wong creates large scale and immersive installations.
tobias wong’s stark lamp chair. i only wish there were more tobias wong pieces. museum of vancouver’s object(ing) exhibition of 2012 was a really comprehensive retrospective.
a recreation of futurist painter and musical composer luigi russolo’s intonarumori, italian for “noise intoners.” russolo developed 27 types of intonarumori with different names according to the sounds they produced: howling, crackling, thunder, crumpling, gurgling, exploding, buzzing and so on.
but my favourite thing, as i’m sure are many people’s, is barbara kruger work on the walls and floor in the VAG’s rotunda. when you’re on the higher floors, looking down at the philosophical quotes, done in all caps black and white, it’s quite the impressive sight – winding around walls, crawling up staircases and inhabiting niches.
overall, i found mash up: the birth of modern culture to be ambitious and interesting. i’m glad that the VAG decided to shake it up and exhibiting something different and modern (enough with the emily carr’s already). they still have a long way to go to catch up to london, new york, paris and such – but it’s a good start.