Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Art of Bjork at MOMA




I have no intention to get into a semantic argument over art.

Anyway, here goes.

I suppose all musicians are artists in their own right, but there are those who add extra dimensions to their repertoire. It might be painting, video, or just an indelible visual style that comes to mind just upon hearing their name or names. The visuals the artists produce are every bit as important as the music and that...despite being something that rock music critics never seem to understand...is by no means detrimental to either aspect. I count David Bowie, Roxy Music, and Duran Duran as examples of the style I am referring to.

Bjork would be another. Now, Bjork has her own exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. I like Bjork, I love art, and my visit to MoMA was certainly exhilarating. As such, I thought it a natural fit for a blog post. Here is what I've found about the exhibit as per the MoMA website and The New York Times.

In concept, the Bjork exhibit seems similar to the "David Bowie Is..." exhibit I attended (and devoured) in Chicago. The music of Bjork is accentuated by displays of album art, looped music videos, a multimedia installation called "Black Lake" commissioned for the exhibit, and of course eye-popping fashion. In the case of the latter, visitors get to see the Alexander McQueen (designer responsible for many David Bowie and Duran Duran looks) "bell dress" (see above) and the famous (or perhaps infamous) "swan dress."





Editorial: Could everybody just lay off Bjork for the swan dress of 2001? Let's face it. It was original. It stood out and entertained. It is a look that was creative and has kept people talking for over a decade. Who else at the Oscars that night can claim such a thing? That's what I thought. Crickets. End rant.

Sadly, it seems that is where the comparisons with the Bowie exhibit must end. This may not be fair. Bowie has had a long and prolific careers, producing not just music but films and paintings. Bjork has not been in the game as long and doesn't aspire to the same things. From what I can gather, however, this lack of wide catalog is one of the reasons that the Bjork installation comes up as anemic. The Bowie show also benefited from the artist's badinage straight into your ears from headphones. Here's what the Times had to say:

"...the Björk exhibition stands as a glaring symbol of the museum’s urge to be all things to all people, its disdain for its core audience, its frequent curatorial slackness and its indifference to the handling of crowds and the needs of its visitors. To force this show, even in its current underdone state, into the atrium’s juggernaut of art, people and poor design is little short of hostile. It superficially promotes the Modern’s hipness while making the place even more unpleasant than usual. Given that the pavilion seems designed to comfortably hold around 300 to 350 people, those Björk fans are going to spend a great deal of time waiting in line or, worse, near the pavilion."

Ouch.

Maybe the show fairs better in The Economist:

"No one sounds like Bjork. With this show, several years in the making, MoMA could have set a new template for a multimedia museum experience, blending music and video, text and artefacts. This retrospective could have mapped out Bjork’s creative process, placing her prodigious talent in some kind of context. Oh, this show might have done so many things. Alas, the only thing it reliably does is waste people’s time."

Yeah okay, maybe not.

Despite all of that, I'd still go. Then again, I'm biased. A day at MoMA in New York City beats most anything else I can think of. Bjork is just added incentive. I'd sit and watch the video for "All is Full of Love" multiple times. Come on, just look at those robots. It's the most romantic thing I've ever seen.



"Army of Me" is no slouch, either.




Both are great songs and amazing achievements in video. No grunge clothes and sitting on stool while strumming the acoustic guitar for Miss Bjork.

So if anyone is interested in helping this blogger get a first-hand look at the art exhibit, hit me up with your donation.

Oh and in case anybody is wondering, my favorite Bjork album is Medulla. Seriously, listen to it. Nobody sounds like her.








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