Contemporary Art

When John B. came to visit me in Oslo, we spent some time at the National Museum of Contemporary Art. It's an interesting juxtaposition: the cutting edge art work in a staid old bank building. We really enjoyed many of the pieces, and two in particular have stayed with me. One was a series of photographs taken by Sophie Calle, an artist who worked as a maid in a hotel. She took pictures of and created captions describing the detritus that travelers leave behind in the "safety" of their hotel rooms. The photos and captions provide a cautionary tale for travelers, but they also invite the voyeurism that has become such a prevalent part of contemporary society.

Another interesting piece was created by Jenny Holzer, an artist known for her combination of text and art. Holzer's piece was a lengthy list of adages or truisms that invite the viewer to read, ponder, and wonder. I found myself laughing at some of the statements that I might have taken seriously in a different setting. There was something so incongruous about reading this representation of received "wisdom" viewed in an art gallery where we are more accustomed to viewing shapes and forms.

Recently, I've been talking with an art professor about co-teaching a class on art and text. He referred me to the Korean group Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries who create internet-based presentations that pair music with words. I've watched a couple of their pieces--they have made me laugh, wonder, and think. I don't love them, but I admire this group's innovative high tech/low tech approach to art.

I'm looking for more artists like these, if you know of any.

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