Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sweetness and (Projected) Light: Q&A on Watch Me Move at the Glenbow Museum

The Lisson Gallery's Greg Hilty works amongst some of the most highbrow echelons of the art world. So when it came time to interview him about Watch Me Move, a show on animation art that was a big hit at the Barbican this summer and is now on at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary (its only North American stop) I had to ask him how the heck he got in charge of this megacrush on populist flicks from Pixar and Disney.

You can find out what Hilty said in today's National Post, where our condensed Q&A appeared. An excerpt:

Q You’ve worked at some of the most high-end galleries in the world. How is it you’ve created an exhibition that crushes out on multiplex fare such as Disney and Pixar?

A There’s overlap in my background as a museum curator specializing in points where the visual arts connect with other visual fields, like film. I’ve always taken the view that there’s great meaning and great relevance to be found in looking at art very broadly. Though I’m very clear about what’s good and what’s not good, I think it can be found in different places.

Q So how do you tell good from bad in animation? What makes one instance artful and another not?

A That’s a hard question. One indicator of animation’s maturity is it has been taken up by many people who call themselves visual artists rather than animators, like Francis Alÿs, Kara Walker, Nathalie Djurberg and Julian Opie. But no matter who’s doing it, I think there can be good clay animation and bad clay animation, just like there can be good painting and bad painting. I think animation has been limited in the past by many museums seeing it as a set of technologies. I was keen to look at animation, by contrast, as an approach to plumb the depths of human consciousness and scale the peaks of human imagination.

My favourite Hilty quote in the Q&A comes at the end, however:

"Sweetness and pleasure and delight are things that the art world sometimes, at its cost, ignores. It tries to be a little bit above all those things — and fair enough, there are serious things to engage with — but it’s a big world, and there are many emotions in the world and in people’s lives. I think one of the reasons for the good response to this exhibition is there’s a sense of recuperating the full range of human emotion in the visual arts."

Damn straight! As a huge fan of the movie Up! and (shame be damned!) a child-free (and, I'll add, cat-free) lady who actually requested seeing Puss in Boots on its opening weekend, I have to agree on that note about sweetness.

There's also some Canadian content I had to trim for lenght, like the fact that Hilty said the NFB did give the world some pretty interesting animation, especially that of Norman McLaren, whose Neighbours is included in the show.

For the entire interview, read on at the National Post's Arts section.

(Still from Toy Story 3 from the Telegraph)

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