In Santa Fe we biked past what Robert Farris Thompson calls a “yard show” — and quite an amazing show it was. The part with naked figurines was hidden from the road/view by a hedge. I believe the street was called Agua Fria.
While in NYC on a couple of days off, I saw a work by a Chinese artist named Song Dong at MoMA. He had saved all the crap that his mom had hoarded in her house and then displayed it all on the floor (as well as the wooden supports of the house). If many of us are dismayed at our parents’ pack rat tendencies we can get a little perspective from viewing this trove of useless, worn out stuff that Granny collected. Truly horrific and strangely beautiful — she saved old toothpaste tubes, shopping bags (oops, I do that too), Styrofoam and cardboard containers… how did she stash it all??!!
Also in NYC I popped in to see the Meth Lab at Deitch on Wooster St. A variation on this exhibition was shown previously in Marfa, Texas: Land O’Judd. I remember friends in Austin and elsewhere pointing out houses in their neighborhoods that were rumored to be meth labs — some of which would suddenly explode if the “chemists” weren’t careful, which they often aren’t.
In Athens I went to three museums on my bike, despite the heat. The Cycladic Museum has a lovely collection of those alien-looking, proto-modern figures. We were reminded that the link to modern Brancusi-like sculptures is deceptive, since like many ancient figures, these were originally brightly colored; maybe now, at least conceptually, they’re more closely linked to less austere, post-modern, colorful sensibilities.
Of course, at the new Acropolis Museum and the massive, overwhelming National Archaeological Museum there are hundreds of more classical Greek figures that had been polychromed — painted in bright colors and who knows what else. (Were they dressed? Oiled and anointed, as sculptures in shrines often are?)
I didn’t keep count, but it seemed like an awful lot of the male statues had had their penises whacked off… not that they were massive to begin with. One wonders if later cultures thought those appendices offensive — maybe the Christian and Orthodox went around whacking off dicks — and I wonder if somewhere on Mt. Athos some monk oversees a box full of “lost” classical penises. (Mt. Athos also maintains a significant seed bank, and houses the first photography archive of images taken in Greece and its surroundings.)
I loved seeing the rooms in these museums where only bits (heh) of sculptures survive — and the fragments are displayed on sticks and metal rods, effectively floating in space: a part of a face, an elbow or some toes are all that remain. I wish they’d go one step further in their reimagining of these classical works — that there might be just one or two re-creations painted and polychromed as they would have been. (There are still bits of paint on some of the statues indicating their original colors.) Of course, they might run the risk of looking tacky and bizarre — like a waxworks museum full of naked people.
Here is a fairly intact Siren — one of the creatures who almost lured Ulysses and his crew to his death with their strange and haunting singing. Freaky.