Mayor Bloomberg And Olafur EliassonFor an artist there’s nothing more important than being chosen by the ruling dynasty of a dominion. The current in New York, well, Manhattan at least, is Michael Bloomberg. His kids appeared in the Jamie Johnson documentary, Born Rich; this is what makes a Romanoff offspring in our fameball age. Artists thus chosen will impact the lives of those who live in the kingdom.  Without our realization, the spaces that these chosen masters design inspires our conversation, how we find and make love and the art we make. Be it a furtive studio, where we do it furtively or sprawlingly in a sprawling concrete box (guys, it looks bigger in a studio).

Olafur Eliasson is the new chosen master of our public works, as evidenced the personal appearance of the mayor in dictatorium, Michael Bloomberg, at the artist’s recent opening at the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery. The Bonakdar gallery specializes in modern conceptual art and hosted prior exhibits by Mr. Eliasson. Ms. Bonakdar was also likely instrumental in securing the Public Art Fund exhibition Waterfalls in New York City, she is a corporate sponsor and already represented Mark Dion who worked with the PAF. The Waterfalls, a giant installation at four locations around the East River, had drawn hundreds of thousands of visitors and millions spectators in the summer of 2008.

On to the heart of the matter: Eliasson vs. Banks Violette; the battle of public vs. publicly private.

Banks Vs. Olafur

Eliasson’s exhibit, Multiple Shadow House, was spurtive; upstairs is the work of a minimalist artist at his age of retrospection.  Simple geometric forms overlap each other on small canvases; Venn diagrams in pastel colors that can only be attributed a beginner’s art class or a master of her trade, the distinction being drawn by their appearance in the sacred walls of an “elite” gallery.

Olafur Eliasson Upstairs Drawing Olafur Eliasson Downstairs

Downstairs was a reclaimed wood table strewn with books of Eliasson’s past work, the majority of which has an architectural quality with the twist of mostly being set indoors. It’s an inversion similar to Christo and Jean Claude wrapping the outside; instead, Eliasson brings the outside in. Also downstairs was an area of commotion thicker and more concentrated then that seen at a typical opening.  Suddenly the vortex is discovered to reveal the mayor of New York, with the cameras gurgling around, worried bodyguards smearing the walls. Short and welcoming was the mayor’s walk through the downstairs rooms, energetic but not passing by. He was there more as a personal friend, not a high-profile figure paying respect to the creator of summer 2008’s New York City tourist attraction.  The downstairs rooms were notable, the same overlapping light and color principles were at work, but here they were behind the viewers, projecting them and causing glee as they saw their dancing forms repeated multiple times in different shades of color. In a nightclub, this concept would be dumbed down to a set of room names: “007 Den” and “Pussy Galore’s VIP.” The visuals reminded one of the early James Bond intro sequences.

Across the street was a different sort of gallery opening, one that emphasized the talent of a young native, one who travels outside of the circles of political recognition and so ignites the independent hearts. Banks Violette at the indemortable (made up word meaning to never be killed) Barbara Gladstone Gallery showed the sparse work of a jester of the darkness.

Banks-Violette-_-Exhibit-at-Gladstone Banks Violette, Chandeliere

An iridescent chandelier made of office halogen bulbs reflected in the dark facades of walls broken apart and hoisted in the middle of the vertical space. This is a more wry set of minimalism, harking back to found object art, which tells a story of the Light and her minions. She’s caught them at an unfortunate moment of  post coitus, the walls no longer connected by their skins are in resting repose, their angles, usually so rigid, are softened and creased like half-bent elbow joints in a caress. They are calm and reflect back her prodding tendrils on their glossy black coats.

In both exhibits, nature comes back into the urban fold, the Highline, our generation’s Central Park. The Waterfalls, our generation’s Hoover dams and artists – our every generation has its skilled and artists are still the same, stuck between the whims of people less sensitive, but as hungry as them. Mayor Bloomberg, this generation’s President Hoover (remember this when he is running again for whatever office his head desires) is at least better than Rudy Giuliani, under whose regime it seemed art was on the defensive when he opposed the “Sensation” exhibit. Either that or the art had gotten a lot safer.

Let’s tally up the scores*:

Public Importance

Olafur Eliasson – his work will appear more around us in grand settings like the rivers, making us wish we had a yacht to cavort in. +4

Banks Violette – his work will remain mostly visible to those who view art, but I see him making a monument at a new public location probably in conjunction with the New Museum with real estate funds. + 2

Personality

Olafur Eliasson – is a paradigm of a collected Dane, someone who leaves a party early but has intense observations in the morning, a great coffee partner, but lackluster after  11. +1

Banks Violette – a skater boy, true punk in his youth, will take you into a dark corner at a place you did not know existed.  He’s an insular New Yorker with a ready laugh, more likely to evoke physical comedy than a summary piece, he will not likely be affable around the studio, it’s work and darkness around then. + 5

Neighborhood of New York

Olafur Eliasson – Upper East Side, casually chatting with the remaining Wasp population about the geopolitics of mid 1990’s Berlin. + 2

Banks Violette – You’d want to say Williamsburg, but you’re off your rocker and late, it’s Chinatown along with the other bands of mid ought urban conquerors. +2

Time of Day

Olafur Eliasson – in the morning the sun dapples the water underneath, in the evening the waves admit they did not go anywhere.  +1

Banks Violette – when did you first see fear? When did you first follow love? When did you realize the modality of the visible? Night time guy over here. + 5

Tally: Olafur – 8, Violette – 14

* Scores are tabulated on a scale of 5, the highest mark.

Olafur Eliasson – his work will appear more around us in grand settings like the rivers, making us wish we had a yacht to cavort in. +4

Banks Violette – his work will remain mostly visible to those who view art, but I see him making a monument at a new public location probably in conjunction with the New Museum with real estate funds. + 2

Personality

Olafur Eliasson – is a paradigm of a collected Dane, someone who leaves a party early but has intense observations in the morning, a great coffee partner, lackluster after  11. +1

Banks Violette – a skater boy, true punk in his youth, will take you in a dark corner at a place you did not know existed, an insular New Yorker with a ready laugh he’s more likely to evoke physical comedy than a summary piece, will not likely be affable around the studio, it’s work and darkness around then. + 5

Neighborhood of New York

Olafur Eliasson – Upper East Side, casually chatting with the remaining Wasp population about the geopolitics of mid-1990’s Berlin. + 2

Banks Violette – You’d want to say Williamsburg, but you’re off your rocker and late, now it’s Chinatown, along with the other bands of mid- ought urban conquerors. +2

Time of Day

Olafur Eliasson – in the morning the sun dapples the water underneath, in the evening the waves admit they did not go anywhere.  +1

Banks Violette – when did you first see fear? When did you first follow love? When did you realize the modality of the visible? Night time guy over here. + 5

Tally: Olafur – 8, Violette – 14

* Scores are tabulated on a scale of 5, the highest mark.
 

-Zabatay

Photograph Credits: Banks Violette portrait by Craig McDean for Interview Magazine, Olafur Eliasson portrait via DLD, exhibition photos and Mayor Bloomberg and Olafur Eliasson by Zabatay


 
  1. Awesome review of the Eliasson and Violette installations. Quite witty, and the comparison/tally is a cool added touch!

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  2. this is retarded!

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    zabatay Reply:

    @samuel, This comment is brilliant!

    [Reply]

  3. [...] now on at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Sydney Australia. Looks like some really amazingThe Light Battle: Olafur Eliasson vs. Banks Violette …For an artist there's nothing more important than being chosen by the ruling dynasty of a dominion. [...]

  4. I absolutely adore Eliasson. I saw his “Take Your Time” exbihit at the Dallas Museum of Art a few years ago and it was life changing. I know that sounds dramatic but truly, it was. If you EVER get a chance to see it, do not hesitate!

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