|photo © Nils_Klinger|
Lori Waxman is an art critic and historian who lives in Chicago. For d13 she decamped to Kassel for three-and-a-half months, together with her husband Michael Rakowitz, an artist also included in the exhibition, and their daughter Renée, who at the time was two-and-a-half years old. Lori wrote a total of 241 reviews during the course of the project. A few of them were for artists whose work revealed their existence as parents; some were even for children.
A book of the entire project was published by Onestar Press, with an afterword by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, the artistic director of dOCUMENTA (13). It can be purchased in print or downloaded as a free PDF. Over the next few weeks Cultural ReProducers will share a series of reviews excerpted from the project, which recognizes children and parents as relevant participants in cultural dialogue.
Give a child a gift and watch what happens. Most prefer the packaging to the toy wrapped inside. It isn’t that dolls and blocks aren’t fun, but that boxes and wrapping are there to be torn, open and closed, balled up and thrown. No one is going to tell you not to destroy a piece of die-cut cardboard. Julie Bernattz, an artist who trained as a printmaker, works with the materials she has at hand. As the mother of a young girl, she has an endless supply of My Little Pony and Lalaloopsy containers that have been ripped open by eager hands. Arranged against a hot pink ground, some of these scraps reveal totally unexpected interest. Simple cardboard shapes prove most compelling. The printed sides are faerie lands empty of their inhabitants, like when Cory Arcangel removed Mario from the Super Mario Bros. video game. The backsides are raw abstractions, recalling Robert Rauschenberg’s cardboard reliefs. It’s trash but it also isn’t. In a land increasingly filled with garbage that we can just barely manage to recycle, Bernattz’s approach may become a necessary one, practically and ethically, as well as aesthetically. If you can’t toss it, look at it again, rethink it, and see if you can’t find something worthwhile there.
—Lori Waxman 6/16/12 2:37 PM
60 WRD/MIN ART CRITIC // KASSEL // 040
|Sofia Frank de Morais Barreira|
Sofia Frank de Morais Barreira
The art of children has long been prized among the avant-garde for its supposedly radical freedom and beautiful naiveté, because children are believed to be unfettered by the tradition of representational accuracy, by the fact that an apple must be round and red, that a face must have two eyes, two ears, one mouth and one nose, and all in the right space. This is hogwash. Consider the artwork of Sofia Frank de Morais Barreira, the four-year-old daughter of a conceptual performance artist. In one vibrant crayon sketch, palm trees sway in the breeze, an orange hut in their shade, a lush hilly landscape in the background. In another, a bright yellow fish swims in the wet blue sea. An odd composition of horizontal black lines and a little red house turns out to be a reproduction of a taxi receipt. A stunning pencil sketch gathers together a mass of dark scribbles that change direction and intensity to form a bird and cloud. One of Sofia’s most abstract pictures, of wavy red and blue stripes, is the result of a firm task given to her mother, to fill in the lines with precise coloring. None of these pieces are the product of wild imagination unbound by the reality of the world. They are the result of a young person continuously figuring out the world as she encounters it, tries it on and tests it out. With, admittedly, great color sense, sweet composition and a very willing maternal collaborator.
—Lori Waxman 6/18/12 5:40 PM