Saturday, October 31, 2009

His new show at the National Museum of the American Indian, called "Brian Jungen: Strange Comfort"

Brian Jungen, Prototype for New Understanding #1, 1998. Image:

I remember seeing Brian Jungen work in Canada when Karen and I were in Montreal many years ago, and was TOTALLY taken by it, like a totem, right? I mean all he need do is make one and have that one magick item have a lingering, magical, even transformative effect.

To view some elegant pix in a gallery by the Washington Post, click here. Gopnik writes on DC show here:

When Jungen made "People's Flag," a huge scarlet banner sewn together from red clothing, red umbrella skins and other mass-produced red textiles, it was to show at the Tate in 2006. The piece paid homage to the long history of popular protest and to England's left. "It seemed awkward for me to make some sort of statement about the native condition in London," Jungen recalls.

But as it hangs in his show at the NMAI, Jungen has discovered that "People's Flag" is being interpreted as the flag of a united Red Nation of Indian peoples -- a concept that doesn't really exist in Canada, he says, where native groups tend to retain their separate identities. (Here in the United States, we've got such things as, a Web site for Indian issues, and the Red Nation Film Festival in Los Angeles.)

And there's a great dialogue on this blog here, View on Canadian Art, check the comment space:

as a member of the peanut gallery, I think one can and should reconsider Jungen’s work, especially the more recent pieces. Some of it is amazingly terrible. The golf bag totem pole’s demonstrate how the “critique” is back-firing into exactly this bad faith “party-line” that Gopnik sees as problematic to the critic’s missteps. These more recent works are totally formulaic, predictable and devoid of any nuance which could be found in the Prototypes for a new understanding and lawn furniture whale skeleton pieces.

I would like to be surprised and stimulated by him again, but it feels to me like the current work is more about the symptom of a vampiric art market.

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