Eric Gregory Powell

Friday, October 03, 2008

New American Swiss Banking Cultural Diplomacy

The United Bank of Switzerland is sponsoring an exhibition of their collection at the National Art Museum of China. “For the Memory of Tomorrow” is a brief survey of the last forty years of international contemporary art. Comprised of mostly printed works by modern old masters (Rauschenberg, Johns, Lichtenstein, Warhol, Stella, Mangold, Kelly) the show lacks any real surprises and falls inline with the blue chip market mentality that would most likely direct any banking executive's art buying strategy. But all that aside, they've got a Gursky, and not just any Gursky, they've got the "99cent store" Gursky. This was my first time to encounter one of the 6 of this work in person and the experience rekindled for me that first time I encountered its reproduction in a magazine. It was that first time that I felt enlightened by some new perspective. This was the year 2000, things were going to start making sense and this was the new art was going to guide us into the future. But soon it was known to me that this new perspective was all manipulation. The image was rendered with a perfection that was impossible and not a photograph as I had, until then, learned to define one. I will only use Michael Fried word for a moment, "theatricality", not just in the physical size of the work but in its gaze. To view the world in such a way, to visually understand its functioning and to organize all its facets into clearly labeled packages perfectly organized on a market's selves is what it presents us with.