It's interesting that "ugly" comes up as a form of valid argument against the ArcelorMittal Orbit (and let's just go with "Orbit" from here on out. I die a little inside each time I have to type that name.) For the most part, people expect art to be by turns ugly, strange or beautiful. But when it comes to architecture, all of that changes. No one wants an ugly building, and strange won't win many fans either. And one thing that seems most unsettling about Orbit is that it occupies that uncanny zone between being sculpture and building. As a sculpture, it could easily have been planned on a much smaller scale and had a similar, if not identical, effect. But as a kind of building it feels rather purposeless and self-aggrandizing. There is of course a great history of self-aggrandizing art and architecture out there, so that can hardly be held against it. Well, maybe it can a little.
There’s a kind of guilt that comes along with having fun with art. It doesn’t seem to add up. It seems more like play, and admittedly, a great many of the one-night-only displays seemed to lack a whole lot of depth. But with the entire event put on chiefly by the Tokyo government, it’s not as cynical as you might imagine. And it did manage to transform the mood in Roppongi from its usual meat-market feel to something far more festival-like.
Some time back, I naively subscribed to two Canadian “arts” newsfeeds — one from the CBC and one from the Globe and Mail — thinking they would keep me abreast of what contemporary artists are up to in my home country. Two years of daily reading later, I have been kept well abreast of which gala film openings were attended by Brad Pitt, the latest news about Michael Jackson’s doctor, and how the contestants performed on last night’s American Idol. I kid you not.
It isn’t as though I needed more proof that Miwa Yanagi is a genius, but now Rat Hole Gallery has quietly put on a solo exhibition involving a handful of her photographic works (less than a handful, really... more like a half-handful, but happily it was a half-handful that I had never seen), plus one brand-new, never-before-screened video work of Brobdingnagian proportions... or at least that describes the people in it.
When the Weekender asked if I was interested in blogging, I asked if I'd get paid for it. Then to end the awkward silence that followed, I said I’d do it anyway. But the truth is that this blog is the answer to a number of things I’d been considering before the opportunity came up. It will not be my first experience with blogging, but with any luck, and a few kind readers, it can become an informative and useful resource.