Saturday, June 16, 2007

Diseno Shakespear at the Katzen

Max Perry

Perhaps one of the more, at least on the surface, "off-beat" shows that has appeared at the Katzen museum, Diseno Shakespear includes various c-prints and prototypes created by the Argentinian design firm.
The show which achieves at least one of its apparent motives-- to highlight the similarities between the slick pop art of the latter 20th century and graphic design through symbol-- also turns out to be a lot of fun. Of the many examples throughout the show, at its best instances, is able to use color and symbol to transcend the written language. Examples of this abound-- the graphic digitized stork holding the bag which appears within the hospital, the large multi-colored "buttons" which suggest which subway train approaches, and the ever present street sign all function simply yet effectively, pointing the way for the casual onlooker to follow.
By placing these objects in the setting of an art gallery however, the context is changed. One is forced to view them in a different way, including the aesthetic, and dynamic qualities they possess as objects. If you take away the objects function, does it therefore function as being more artistic? It is an interesting question.
Do they hold up? Some do and some don't. Certainly the more sculptural pieces, the ones that go beyond mere photograph, seem to hit the mark better than the c-prints. They bring the outside world inside and reference the readymade object in a way that the two dimensional photograph can't seem to do -at least not in this setting. This is not to say that the photographs aren't good, they just don't quite hit the same level as the three dimensional objects. They come off more as if this is a firm pitching an idea in a "suppose we did this" sort of way that seems to work against the uniformity that the other pieces suggest.
Over all it is a fun show and one that is worth seeing.

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