This weekend, Ed Young and Christian Nerf were in town – to cause trouble. So we took a break from that and went to the Brooklyn Museum, where Ron Mueck currently has a mid-career solo on show.
If you don’t know his work, he pretty much makes small, or large scale super-realistic sculptures of humans. Average humans – not your Gwen Stefani’s or your Brad Pitt’s, just the man in the street. The work he became famous for- a small version of his father, was on show, including a 16ft(3m) long baby, having just been given birth to-still fresh with blood and the umbilical cord. There was also the spaced out village idiot on a chair-his shin bone as tall as a man. These sculptures make you fell like your on stage with the cast of a the Big Friendly Giant.
The show is very slick. Very minimalist to a degree. It is only people- all naked and clean. But the sheer amazement is what makes it work. Each hair is visible. Each wrinkle and skin blemish has been replicated, created.
The grand finale was a woman alone in bed: her head as tall as us, staring vacantly out into the distance. It was at this point that I realised that it takes some time to get past the size and realism, to the root of what Mueck is dealing with. The size almost detracts from the issues of reality, social class and expression of life experience that these works deal with- showing everyday people in various states of distress, death, depression or mental illness: the baby has just been born, the man in the boat looks as if he is about to be transported through a black hole. The women in bed seems to be contemplating whether or not to get up for work and the man in the corner seems to be trying to stop the thoughts inside his head. The village idiot-well, he’s the village idiot. We all need one as a measure. And maybe that’s what this is to some extent-a measure for us and for the artist… So that we can place ourselves in context and see where things really are and how they are for us.
Mueck communicates communication-or the lack of it maybe.
The only criticism I would have of the show is the section related to his artistic process. He drills the holes in the silicone by hand and threads them in! Each Hole!!! Each Hair!
It is fascinating to see this but I think it is a mistake for him-As it removes a level of mystery that these works have. His video of him working in his studio has a shocking soundtrack to it. But other than that you really get the sense that some of these pieces are going to jump at you.
Check out the work on the Brooklyn Museum website.
And if you haven’t been to one of their first Fridays then you should go. They are great.
Other than this Chelsea has been largely depressing. Nothing significant going on there. Makes one wonder.