Haunted: Luis Jacob at the Guggenheim
Also in New York, I fought the Saturday crowds to get a look at Haunted, the Guggenheim's extraordinarily thoughtful, well-mounted exhibition of contemporary photography and video. Thoughtful because, above it all, it strives to make connections beyond simple media and into the realm of idea, reference and intent, understanding formal concerns like appropriation -- a huge current in the early moments of conceptualism, and a lingua franca of contemporary art today -- and its connections across that epochal divide.
That's a long way of saying it pieces together artists and moments from the iconic to the emerging, and it should please those passionate about Toronto art to see none other than Luis Jacob sharing the Gugg's gorgeously curving rotunda with the likes of Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol. Masters of appropriation themselves, Warhol and Rauschenberg seem to speak directly to Jacob's meticulously ordered piece, "Album IV," an intimate-seeming scrapbook of images which, on close inspection, is comprised mostly of magazine clippings and ads -- a dislocatedly impersonal, personal-seeming history that betrays the infiltrations of a media culture into our own psyches to such a degree that differentiation between the manufactured and the sincere demands pause for thought.
Anyway, judging from the crowds leaning in for a closer look -- it was hard to spend too much time with "Album IV," for all the people clustered around it -- Jacob realized his intent nicely. The Guggenheim thought so, too: they bought "Album IV" for their permanent collection.
Speaking of permanent collections, it's always a little mind-blowing to see what a place like the Guggenheim can do when it unpacks the boxes in the its basement: From Rauschenberg to Warhol to Christian Boltanski to Marina Abromovich to Felix Gonzalez-Torres to Jeff Wall to Stan Douglas to Tacita Dean and beyond, it's fairly mind-blowing.
As an aside, nice to see a bit of Canada-boosting as an inadvertent part of Haunted: Wall and Douglas, of course, are the established art stars to go along with Jacob and Winnipeg's Sarah Anne Johnston, whose homespun images of a dream-like recreation of tree planting are shown here. I have to admit to some national pride swelling in my chest. Take that, Denver!
Only until Sept. 6, so get on down there.
(PS. Speaking of appropriation, the above image, of Jacob at the Guggenheim, is borrowed -- with gratitude -- from the Peruvian website rpp.com.pe, where it can be seen in its original context here.)