Visual Art Your Wednesday Morning Pairing
posted by December 26 at 11:58 AMon
In a strong little collection show up at MoMA now (which includes a piles sculpture and a vaguely sexual video by Lynda Benglis that sets the stage for the ur-’90s video Head with Cheryl Donegan drinking from and spitting milk back into a carton for 3 minutes), two works are engaged in total mutual mockery—unintentional.
Gilbert & George (pictured above), in a 1972 video, sit around in a posh parlor, drinking, to pompous music by Wagner and Elgar. As they do this, they chant, “Gordon’s makes us drunk,” which is the title of the piece, adding as time goes by, “Gordon’s makes us very drunk,” and then, “Gordon’s makes us very, very drunk.”
If you take this seriously, there is no way to take the museum seriously, and if you take the museum seriously, there is no way to take this seriously. This is the bind Gilbert & George set up when they declare the regular actions of their lives art, and it comes to a head here.
Meanwhile, in the gallery next door is John Baldessari’s 1971 “I Am Making Art,” in which he chants, “I am making art,” while waving his arms around ridiculously.
I wonder if Baldessari has seen Trisha Donnelly’s Canadian Rain (2002), a video that turns the arm-waving into a ritual rain dance. Like both Gordon’s Makes Us Drunk and I Am Making Art, it raises questions about what makes an authentic artist—or an authentic person, for that matter.