The current Focus: exhibits at The Modern are by New York based artist Gary Simmons and British/Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare. Both exhibits are extremely small as they are located at the museum’s north wing. Luckily, there are other paintings, photographs, and videos that are on display (apart from the permanent collection).
The Gary Simmons exhibit has a collection of paintings that are made to mimic the appearance of smudged chalk. It’s a very cool effect, I just wish there were more paintings of his on display. Most notably, was his painting entitled Starlite Theater, a drive-in theater in Dallas and one of few in Texas to allow black patrons in the 1950s.
The Yinka Shonibare exhibit had a bit more to offer. Photographs on display, in this exhibit, are staged to appear like dramatic paintings. In my opinion the headless mannequin display was nothing too special. While viewing the remaining photographs (I believe there were three total) I kept hearing stomping and rapid tapping from the opposite gallery. At first I thought it was an employee doing some work behind the wall. Once I rounded the corner I saw what was causing the noise: A video installation of two female ballet dancers. One white. One black. They were mimicking each other’s moves to create a mirrored effect. This video installation, Odile and Odette, was well done and was very hypnotic. The tapping, stomping, and breathing had a sort of calming effect. About as calming as another video installation on display: Brian Fridge’s Vault Sequence.
Brian Fridge, a Fort Worth artist, created a video sequence using his freezer (haha). This video captured ice particles swirling in the air and gives the appearance of stars swirling in the cosmos. The video was strangely hypnotic and the soundtrack of another video installation playing directly behind it, Hiraki Sawa’s Dwelling, showing multiple planes taking off, only added to the video’s hypnotic effect. The sound of the jet engines whirring up on their ascent coincided with the swirling of ice particles perfectly and created the feeling of being in the void of space.
Another awesome installation was Jenny Holzer’s Kind of Blue. This consisted of nine blue LED panels with lighted truisms scrolling and seeming to appear out of one wall and out into the reflective pool. More than a few people stood there reading the messages, which seemed to shift from positive to negative and dark. I plan to upload and attach a video I took of it, because I feel that a picture will not do it justice.