Richard Humann’s NATURE OF THE BEAST
Richard Humann created a lot of controversy when he opened Nature of the Beast at HP Garcia last week without having labels or a
price list. This was a new and refreshing manner of seeing art in the 21s century. Instead of reducing the weight of the labels characteristic of the death throes of postmodernism, he got rid of them altogether.
There was a press release available at the opening which stated the show is presenting artists who investigate system complexities within the natural order. “They are all connected to the natural world and yet the modern technological world is ever-present in their designs.”
This creative decision was surely an outgrowth of the curator’s artistic development with Lance Fung, who had a gallery in the original fluxus space on Broadway. Yet, it caused immeasurable consternation among critics, particularly my friend Ed Rubin, who spent the years before the crash globetrotting from Dubai to Russia to Brazil reporting on art fairs for various magazines. At the dinner, Ed was extremely vocal about what he perceived as a lack in the show, thereby ruining for others not so obsessed with the marketplace, the organic experience of entering the synergy of the exhibition to experience its holism. To get the point of its exclamation, without being railroaded by its line(age).
How dare a curator do an exhibition that may confound a viewer’s sense of place! Are we in a shopping mall or in a zone of creation? a What — no price tags? Does everything in this culture have to have a price in order to have value? And what if it exists entirely without numerical correspondences? What then? Might there be a danger of a collector falling in love with the work of, er, an unknown artist? Or perhaps not the work of the artist who invited them to the show? Might the money people be embarrassed to have emotions rule over the pocketbook?
Such mental preoccupations were necessary once one stood in the presence of David Opdyke’s wasp nest. Created from torn up packages from air express companies and miniature airplanes in the place of birds that, nonetheless, fly into the center of gravity this anthropomorphic structure made me immediately feel my energies, like the man-made airplanes, propelled towards a center of gravity far beyond my control. It made me think of 2012 alignment of the Winter Solstice Sun with the Black Hole at the Galactic Center.
The Mayans somehow knew about this convergence in time and space of a sped up death and rebirth cycle through their cosmological view of the World Tree at Zero degrees Capricorn, where life begins anew out of the Black Hole, just as sprouts emerging from dung (left).
Whatever the dynamics of training the eye to work in cohesion with the body, the experience of the opening last Wednesday was something, I imagine, like being in Frank Oppenheimer’s Exploratorium.
For one, you got to learn how to train spiders to be house pets with Lars Chelberg. “Just feed them and they will stick around,” he told me. His wall sculpture seemed, er…incomplete. Without a label to fill in the gaps, it came as a revelation: nature will organically integrate its disparate parts through the weaving of a web! How delightful to participate in a work so complex (as we could experience through his diary mounted beside the work), yet so utterly simple!
A similar expression of interconnectedness is in China Blue’s Hygro Rhizome pictured on the invite, which require water in order to be illuminated, going dark in the case of evaporation or contamination of this element so crucial for life.
Or get lost in Solange’s forest with the fabulous Teresa!
LIGHTENING IN A BOTTLE
In any case, the exhibition was lightening in a bottle, coming at this crucial time of the paradigm shift, cosmically marked by the passage of Uranus into Aries on May 27. Having the planet which rules the unseen electrical currents, the unexpected life-changing occurrence cross the meridian to begin an entirely new cycle, means a radical shift of lifestyle, whether it be caused by economic rifts or natural disruptions in our rhythmic patterns and internal systems — such the volcano in Iceland shutting down air traffic and an unimpeded oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico drastically affecting coastal and ocean life.
The dealer and curator of this innovation are both Aries, which will be lit up like fireflies with the Uranus ingress into their sign on May 28.
Ed not only went on about this all during the celebration dinner afterwards, but the next day called the gallerist and myself to tell us about the wonderful use of labels at the triennial exhibition at the National Design Museum, which reinforces what he told me at dinner: it is a museum quality show.
So, I asked Richard Humann for a quote to defend his creative choice: Here is what he sent me:
“I’m happy for the fact that this discussion is even happening because it means that the show was well-received and important enough to elicit this kind of a response.
On the other hand, it’s such a trivial matter that it seems to be overshadowing the quality of the artists’ work. The reason that I chose not to put labels up next to the artwork, or provide a price-list, is because I viewed this work as a collective, a group exhibition in which the art work stands on its own as a separate entity but is synergetic with all the other pieces.
We provided a full press release with images to all members of the press, as well as collectors, and also printed out a press package that described the individual works by the artist with his or her CV.
In today’s world, a critic, collector or gallery-goer, could simply log-on to their Iphone, Blackberry, or any PDA and find a universe full of information on the artists that I included in the show. It’s that easy and that accessible.
The truth is, the paradigm is shifting and it might be difficult for some to accept.”
Yes, the paradigm is shifting. By its very definition, we cannot rely on habitual structures that cannot contain new art forms that are ever evolving and integrated with personal experience. The art which challenges and excites us (Aries!) in the 21st century connects with the kundalini. A kundalini awakening triggers the AHA moment and incorporates this awareness into the body. The result is an evolutionary leap into new realms of ever aliveness. This is the promise of Uranus in Aries!
Now, here is a test. If you have been contemplating the images closely, and let your body experience its instinctual impressions, you might have guess what I am about to tell you, below, inside the label:
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