Monday, August 30, 2010

Enjoyed: David K. Ross' Art for Museum Nerds @ the MACM

On a recent trip to Montreal, I really enjoyed a couple of things, artwise: 1) the Jenny Holzer show at the DHC (which is amazing as per her oeuvre, and also really interesting in terms of viewing a shift from her general statements on the vagaries human nature to a focus on a very particular instance of same--declassified, censored documents related to the Gulf War) and 2) David K. Ross' exhibition at the MACM, which provided an excellent museum-geek moment.

What Ross does in the latter exhibition, "Attaché," is introduce viewers to a little known phenomenon: that since the 1960s, public art galleries in Canada have colour-coded their shipping crates, such that the CCA's crates are painted cobalt blue, the MACM's crates (pre-1989) were rose pink, the MBAM's crates are painted yellow-orange, the National Gallery's crates are painted red, and so on. Ross (who's taken pictures of art-storage facilities in the past) explores this phenomenon in his show by providing large-scale photographic blowups of small sections of these crates. (Each print is sized to just fit the crate it depicts.) Ross also provides my favourite work in the show, a video where you watch MACM technicians and installation workers use drywalling techniques to seal off 8 of these colour-coded crates into their own hidden compartment within the museum. (I think the video is projected onto said compartment.)

In the text for the show, Ross and the curator reach towards the idea that this colour-coding system evolved around the same time as colour field painting--an interpretation that's actually not so interesting to me, personally. But I really enjoyed learning about this behind-the-scenes colour-coding system, as well as considering the museum-as-crate: a thing that both protects a work and seals it off from the world.

Ross' show wraps up September 6--worth a look if you can make it. (Also FYI Holzer's show continues at the DHC to November 14.)

Image of David K. Ross' video projection 396 x 534 x 762 from his website

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