Bjork at MOMA

I love Bjork. I have loved her music since her Debut album. I still find it fresh and current. I don’t know about her persona as I am not that kind of a fan. Usually I hate anything that smacks of ingénue, that awful fakery of childishness and sexuality. Yuk.  But Bjork does a different thing, not ingénue, but openness. There seems to be an innocence, but she knows her craft, she knows music. She is her music.

So to be in New York when MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) were putting on a Bjork show was a great opportunity to see/know more. And we got to see it early without the crowds. I say this not to show off, but as I couldn’t imagine how to see it with many people at the same time. The tickets are timed as it takes a while to go through one of the ‘displays’, but there are other displays of videos that are running in loops. The curation seemed lacking, the exhibits were on three floors. Too much and too many and too unfocussed.

I love Bjork, but I couldn’t really get the ‘show’. The music videos are brilliant and great to see. Her latest one is raw emotion. Very brave and beautiful.

The narrative room, the main new part of this show uses her albums to make a journey. It is done by playing a track or two from each album in sequence with a story over the top of a girl creating a world and becoming part of that world. There are displays alongside of outfits, clothes worn for concurrent videos or album sleeves, which link the display to the music. There are notes from her lyric book, costumes from the video of that particular album, sets for all of this to sit in and music from the album playing alongside the narration.  I found it hard to take in, narration, notes, costumes, installations, music, everything all at once like an assault of the senses. As if the music wasn’t enough. It wasn’t an immersive space like an art work; it was documentary, but with too much evidence presented all at once, more like a nightclub than an art space. The narration made it feel like a story had been constructed and the albums fitted into it. All the wrong way round.

The David Bowie exhibition in London was at the V & A, a museum of culture and Bjork needed to be in a similar place.. Not an art gallery.

I still love Bjork. In the end I don’t really know what I saw in this show. It wasn’t art and it wasn’t fanzine. I’ll stick with the music.


On Kawara – Silence – Guggenheim NY

Guggenheim Museum, New York is a museum known as much for its architect, Frank Lloyd Wright as for the artists it displays. It was originally conceived to display Guggenheim’s collection of Kandinsky’s works. Nowadays it has many and varied exhibits to see.


The Guggenheim Museum New York

It is a difficult and challenging space to display works in as it ascends from the central atrium in a spiral opening up as you ascend. It is a beautiful space, with many references to spiritual ideas, but due to its curvature and openness, you can see across the spiral to all the spaces, hard to hang works of art in.

Not for On Kawara. It was as if the space was designed for him, Unfortunately, like Mr Guggenheim and Mr Lloyd Wright, he died before his show opened. But he knew it was happening. I don’t know if that is comfort or irony.

on kawara 2

On Kawara

His pieces are so (deceptively) simple you would pass one by if it was by itself. They are like markers, mainly grey with white writing, like a tombstone, but in landscape rather than portrait shape. They have the date they were painted. Just that. And because they are just that they are also everything.

He painted a date like that each day, every day. If it was not completed by midnight he destroyed it. Although that is not the apparent part of the work, I love the diligence, the attention, the mindfulness. They place him, and you the viewer, in the here and now, but also in the then and there. As the viewer, you complete the picture of course as you fill in what you were doing that day in your mind. They open that conversation of remembrance at the same time as being present, realising the gift of every day.

on kawara 4

On Kawara

His other works are equally magnificent. His postcards, his collections and his messages.


On Kawara: I got up

I had to buy the t-shirt ‘I am still alive’. How perfect an expression.

Perfect art in the perfect place for it.

Wherever you are Mr On Kawara; thank you. You made my day.