Small Worlds and Glass Halls

Well, I arrived back in Tennessee last night. I meant to post about what I did on Wednesday, but I posted about the visa issues instead. So we’ll be going back and looking at what happened then.

On Wednesday, me and my dad went to the Toledo Museum of Art. I had visited the museum a couple years ago when I visited my father in Ohio, but I mostly just walked around the glass pavilion. I wanted to go back again another time so that I could spend more time in the pavilion. I definitely got to do that.

The award winning glass pavilion, one of the biggest draws of the Toledo Museum of Art

The pavilion is a work of art in and of itself. The designers of the building won the 2010 Pritzker architecture award, making one of them (Ryue Nishizawa) the youngest architect to receive the award. It’s a pretty stunning building, and all the exhibits inside are related to glasswork.

For more about the glass pavilion as well as the museum as a whole, please join me after the break.

We happened to get pretty lucky, around the time we finished looking at most of the exhibits, a glassblowing demonstration began. Usually, the demonstrations are devoted to glassblowing, but currently, the Toledo Museum of Art is offering a glass sculpture inspired by Labino’s work to anyone who purchases a membership at the contributer level. It is really a good deal, if you live in the area, like art, and have any intention of owning a glass sculpture like this.

The almost finished sculpture during the demonstration

The demonstration was pretty cool, and when we were there, there were not too many people, which was pretty nice. Following the demonstration, my dad and I went over to the main museum. While I was looking around, he talked to the museum membership office about attempting to get that exact sculpture, since this was one of our last times together for…well, it is hard to say. Since he lived several states away I didn’t see him too often before, and I really don’t know how long I’ll be living in Asia, which is even father away. The piece had to cool in an oven to prevent it from bursting from thermal shock. The museum couldn’t guarantee him that piece, but he talked to several people hoping to get his hands on it, including a woman in a gift-shop and the artist who made it. He left them his number, hoping to hear from them, but we left with the sense we wouldn’t get it. I had thought, during the demonstration, that I’d love to have that piece, and that I would definitely join the museum if I lived in Toledo, or if I wasn’t moving to Korea, but I more or less shrugged and gave up on it. My dad wasn’t giving up so easy and wanted to surprise me with it without me knowing, but it didn’t really work out. Maybe the museum will surprise us. It was cool either way.

While he was doing that, I wandered the main exhibit halls. Last time I was at the Toledo Museum of Art, I got to see the special exhibit (it was on graphic novels) and some 12th century christian art. This time, I started with the special exhibit (Currently called “small worlds”) and then I made it to a number of other exhibits.

While the classical art was all great, it paled in comparison to massive exhibits at the Royal Ontario Museum. The detailed European sculptures really stood out to me, since I didn’t get to see exhibits like that at ROM, but that was mostly because I didn’t have the time to see everything at ROM, it was just too huge. Toledo Museum of Art also had a good selection of netsuke, which was neat.

But to me, the big highlight was part of the Small Worlds exhibit. The overall exhibit…wasn’t really my cup of tea, but that’s how it goes with modern art. It’s all subjective. Anyway, one installation blew me away, and that was a piece called DanDAN  by TABAIMO. It as a series of three panels with projectors throwing images of a Japanese apartment on them. A music player played some sound effects and music, but it kind of melted into the images for me. The sound was crucial, but I can’t really conjure the exact sounds in my mind now that I’m not there. The images shifted through a series of apartments with constantly shifting perspective. Everything was module, but it flowed in and out. For the most part, the apartments were empty and lifeless. In fact, one bed seemed to contain a dead body or something that was picked at by a pigeon. Occasionally, a resident would appear, but they would do strange, surreal things, like enter the refrigerator or climb into a washing machine for a bath. I was transfixed by it.


This was a normal cross section.


This was one of my favorite sequences. A woman got into a small box (either a tiny washing machine, bath or possibly the reservoir of a toilet) suddenly, a zoomed in image of her appeared in the upper right, and you could see her spinning somewhat.



I snapped this as the scene was changing. Notice the woman spinning in the laundry machine. She was typing an e-mail on her phone.

The end of the loop was when the apartment began collapsing and everything fell to darkness. Then a pigeon would fly by in the void. As eerie and dead as the apartment seemed before, it was nothing compared to the absolute darkness of the room after the collapse.

I was completely unaware of TABAIMO before I found this exhibit, but after this, she’s one of my favorite contemporary artists. I hope I get a chance to see another of her installations at some point. Her characters and themes remind me of Shintaro Kago, although Kago has the tendency to get fascinated with scatological and viciously grotesque subject matter, while TABAIMO is more focused on anonymous, yet intimate public spaces. Kago’s genius is sometimes lost under a pile shit (literally), which gives me a love/hate relationship with his work. TABAIMO seems to give me just the positive.

If you live in the Toledo area, definitely go check it out. The admission to the museum is free, but even if it wasn’t, DanDAN is worth seeing.


~ by James on February 10, 2012.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: