Oct 24, 2008


While in Santa Fe, I finally had the opportunity to visit the well-known Site Santa Fe contemporary art center. The current show was the 7th international biennial to be held there, 'Lucky Number Seven,' curated by Lance M. Fung.

I do appreciate the fact that Fung chose---to more or lesser degrees---emerging artists, many of whom were from the region.

However, much of the work was not exceptional, and came up short of inspiring new conversation or dialogue.

New York based artist Nadine Robinson's piece was the most impressive, a giant trio of X's perched atop the SITE Santa Fe building, illuminated at night with hundreds of industrial bulbs. The 3 X's reference both the historical religious reading of the cross and plays with more contemporary notions of 'x-rated.'

Studio Azzurro had the most interesting and fun piece in the exhibition, featuring locals walking up a city sidewalk, digitally projected on a gallery wall, larger than life. The viewer could place their hand on any of the figures walking by, at which point the figure would turn and face the viewer and give them directions in the area. As a long-time urban dweller, I appreciated this investigation into how people treat and interact with one another in a busy city area. Ignore? Keep eyes focused forwards? Make eye contact? Or talk to each other?

Probably the weakest work in the show was the sculptures of mother and daughter team headed by Eliza Naranjo Morse. Their sculpture---reminiscent of a long piece of poop---was chosen to be draped over the entrance to the museum. If a piece is, in essence, advertising how and where to cross the threshold from outside to in, it better be a strong, or at the very least, interesting, or offensive, piece of work. This was none of those. And especially in contrast with Nadine's giant x's, I really don't know what the curator was thinking to offer this very important site to these artists and this piece of work. I appreciate that they chose 'local' materials for their piece such as clay, but so what? This was an example where MORE would have been effective; the result was just weak. This picture is from some of their other sculpture draped elsewhere in New Mexico.

On one hand, I respect Fung for bringing in regional artists to an international exhibition space, especially as regional work is such a huge part of the art market in New Mexico. However, if it can't provoke thought or be visually seductive, there has to be more to it than 'being regional.'

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