Friday, 5 November 2010

Sara's Dorian Gray

Temporary yet eternal, Sara VanDerBeek's photographs of her own sculptural work evoke nothing less than a memory of an oeuvre that existed only for the purpose of being photographed. Furthermore, to exist no matter the form or not to exist in actual form, is it the death of a "subject" when it succumbs transformation into different media or is the concept a "Garden of Eden" for art?

The conceptual collage-like constructions are made up out of carefully collected images from a wide range of sources, including art history books, archives, magazines, and newspapers. Immediately following the shoot, VanDerBeek disassembles the works, which leaves the pictures as the sole evidence of the work itself.
My knowledge of the intentional elusion of the sculptures during the exhibition, draws me straight into the images in an unexpected, mindboggling, perhaps self-induced, pseudo-philosophical trip from 2D to 3D. Always having been obsessed with the Gothic Novel "classic collection literature" section of Waterstones, this notion evokes a slumbering feeling of the uncanny for the (to me) unmistakable parallel between VanDerBeek's concept and Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray.

Whether VanDerBeek was trying to preserve the beauty of her work by eternalizing it in digital print will remain a mystery to me until a future encounter, but I am pretty certain she would at least consider seeing my point.

"Realizing that one day his beauty will fade, Dorian (whimsically) expresses a desire to sell his soul to ensure the portrait Basil has painted would age rather than himself. Dorian's wish is fulfilled, plunging him into debauched acts. The portrait serves as a reminder of the effect each act has upon his soul, with each sin displayed as a disfigurement of his form, or through a sign of aging."
(Wikipedia, Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray)

Sara Vanderbeek is currrently exhibiting at the Whitney Museum of American art in NYC, the show runs until december the 5th, well worth checking out whilst in the city.

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