It's magical at first; the sets are so incredible, and you find things like, for instance, a letter in an old Underwood typewriter on a dusty desk, warning Banquo to get out of town. Or you'll suddenly see a woman running down a hall who looks amazingly like Judith Anderson (Mrs Danvers in the Hitchcock "Rebecca") or you step into a room that turns out to be a forest maze and you think "Did Birnam Wood come to Manhattan?" So in that way it's exciting because you're searching for the story. But when you consistently find very little story, and all of it in mime, it's a bit of a letdown.
And then there's the theatrical "fog" that permeated everything. It smells kind of like a mix of smoke, mold, and dust. After hours of walking through this fog, it, perversely, makes the experience begin to feel the same whether you're in Lady Macbeth's bedroom or the psychiatric ward of King James Infirmary (yes, that's one of the sets). And the finale: Feh... Nonetheless, there's great style and originality, and I definitely felt, when it was over, that I'd taken a journey, been somewhere else. Best, I think, to treat it like a trip to a museum: there's incredible things to see, if not much plot.
After a short bout of pointing and snickering, I tried to view the works in a more mature way, hoping to understand their cultural significance in the context of Art (note the emphasis). Or maybe I just wanted to know why people were willing to spend 100-600k on these garish pictures. The gallery catalogue didn't help much: "Evoking painting as a series of experiences akin to the movie camera gliding through space, capturing action as it goes, Kelley has devised a spatial push-pull effect through the arrangement of large polychrome panel paintings and smaller framed canvases." Really? I smell BS. Take out a few words here and there, and they'll have vaguely described the entire history of painting. Or how about this: "the small framed paintings on canvas[...]operate like windows in the gallery walls, punctuating the spatial parameters set up by the larger panel paintings." Not exactly groundbreaking. My own intellectual shortcomings aside, I didn't get ANY of this from the show. What I did get was a pretentious gallery-sanctified carnival: clusters of bright colors and sensational images goading us to run around looking for the next freak in the show. And I enjoyed it for just that. It's lowbrow-as-highbrow entertainment; trying to read anything more into it is like having a degustation at McDonalds.
© 2013 The L Magazine
Website powered by Foundation