If My Soul Had a Shape

Another art event we were able to pop into while in New York was the newest incarnation of Seven. Seven is a consortium of seven (duh!) galleries that come together to form a large scale group show that coincides with larger art fairs, another form of alternative exhibition that I saw during my time in the Miami art fair scene awhile back. Seven is sort of a calm in the storm of massive, overwhelming art fair culture, usually taking place on the outskirts of the larger circus, in a warehouse or other non-art space, where the individual work is truly what is on display and the overall feel is a little more on the personal side as gallerists and artists roam around alongside whoever wanders in which, given the location, is not regulated to the woman looking to find a Picasso to match her hallway (I really did hear someone say that while attending Art Basel Miami Beach a few years back...)!

The current exhibit took place in Pierogi Gallery's recent expansion, the Boiler Room (a former industrial boiler room in a factory space), in Williamsburg Brooklyn and featured work from Pierogi Gallery, Hales Gallery, Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, BravinLee, Postmasters Gallery, P·P·O·W and Winkleman Gallery. There was a lot of high concept shapes going on so it wasn't exactly my cup of tea...this one piece by Andy Yoder of a plastic flower covered half circle, reflected in a mirror to form a ring,"tied" to a thick metal rope from the ceiling was definitely my favorite...something about the delicate seeming texture of the fake flowers, with the metal rope-like heaviness and the illusion of the circle made this buoyant form feel weighty and false at the same time, very elegant...Actually, a lot of the art in the exhibit was very nice to look at but I don't know if I understood much of it? Or if the meanings I was inferring were anywhere near their intention? Then I had a weird encounter when someone there made fun of me for taking a photo of the moon...the supermoon I should say! It was unintentional, the photo of the moon, I was trying to take a picture of a glowing rooftop...but then I got totally bummed that someone would make fun of someone else for taking a picture of the moon? And then I got bummed that I would let a jumble of shapes in a warehouse irk me at all...so, in the words of Kurt Vonnegut: "Getting mad at a work of art is like getting mad at a banana split." Moving on.

...the next day we headed over to an opening at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts where I saw one of the best art shows I've seen in awhile, Collapse: The Cry of Silent Forms. Brandon Ballangée, an artist and biologist, makes work focusing on natural forms, in this particular exhibit the changing tragic beauty in animal specimens. Images of deformed birds, vividly displayed jars of stacked undersea creatures (pictured), skillfully lit petri dishes of stained malformed amphibian skeletons, video of natural disaster came together to form an overall understanding of the state of tiny things on a global environmental scale. In this great interview with Ballangée over at Ecological Art.Org he recounts experiences he has had that have formed his desire to focus on this type of work, raising awareness to the public both through art and science, shaping an understanding of what it means to be a living creature: "A group of inner city kids pull a net through a polluted section of an urban river-from the broken glass and beer cans they find feisty green crabs, silver-sided fish, and a seahorse- There are yells of excitement at seeing the wiggling catch and a sense of melancholy when looking at the trash." The artist reduces the tragic state of ecological dysfunction into beatific forms, reminding us of the inherent wonder, awe and intricacy in every living thing, a truth that should inspire us all! Ballangée's show is an intersection of biology and beauty and social responsibility and I loved it! Go see this show!



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