Generally, I have little interest in art exhibitions but Angela's reportage on the Art Gallery of Ontario show called Andy Warhol SUPERNOVA Stars, Deaths And Disasters 1962-1964 last week piqued my interest.
I haven't been to an Art Gallery in ages. I'm not sure if it's de rigueur that everyone gets a handheld phone like device to play with? I have seen them on guided tours but not in an art gallery before. They work like so: the exhibits are numbered, you punch the corresponding number into the phone and listen up while someone tells you what you're looking at and gives it some context. (In this case it was guest curator David Cronenberg and others such as Dennis Hopper)
Using this phone and looking around at everyone was a bit like watching a strange dance that Andy would no doubt have enjoyed. The steps were simple -- mill about, shuffle your feet, breathe, listen and nod knowingly to no one. I did make it a point to talk to my friend John at first in hushed tones and then in my normal speaking voice to see if this would affect anyone. I did get a few dirty looks but nothing like the ones my mother used to give me for talking in Church.
It was interesting to see how Andy appropriated images from newspapers, magazines and popular culture and made them more iconic by simple virtue of adding splashes of colour and repetition. I was surprised at how impactful and effective this made them.
A lot of the pieces on show were stark and disturbing while others were tragic and funny at the same time. I thought Mr. Cronenberg did a fantastic job with juxtaposing some of the filmed works with the still ones. Some of his commentary I found a bit far reaching but then again, I don't wear glasses like he does.
One of the biggest challenges while listening was stopping my eyes skipping ahead to the next display. Elvis 1 & 2 was larger than life and just drinking in the range on the panels from garish technicolor through to a fading obscurity was a feat. I'd seen this image many times but up close it was a different and surprisingly emotional experience.
There were some great quotes on the walls from Andy and also a wonderful Mappelthorpe portrait of him. Throw in a few electric chairs, nudity, some Jackie O, film pieces and those wonderful screen tests and you've got yourself a great afternoon.
And as for that phone, I listened and heard Andy through it and I know he heard me. He told me to make this for you. And so I did.