Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Last month, the Arthur Roger Gallery in New Orleans presented a challenging exhibition. Blame It on Vegas- Collecting Meta-Modern brought me to surf the Web and find "Notes about Meta-Modernism", the Webzine initiated by the Dutch cultural theorists Timotheus Vermeulen and Robin van den Akker in May 2009. It also reminded me of my visit at the  Centre Pompidou two years ago where I saw UR from Cyprien Gaillard, winner of the Marcel Duchamp prize at the FIAC in 2010. The photographic collections of ruins from past civilizations left us wonder about the future of our world. Like Gaillard, Stephen Paul Day spends some time yearly in Berlin and though called a post-modernist, relates to the meta-modernist movement.

The artist curated the exhibition, an assortment of sculptures, paintings, objects,
randomly distributed throughout the gallery (maybe not so randomly). Napoleon and Hitler are the subject of several works, the empire builders now reduced to small sculptures. Napoleon is remembered with a lineup of eleven sugar almond candied colored busts and two busts on a pink glass base facing each other in a self-embrace. Hitler is a small lonely sculpture in a glass ball, frozen in an eternal salute. Along the wall, three large representations of matchboxes, humorous drawings included, further, The laughing Man. Blame it on Vegas, 2013, the upside down head of a laughing man with a distorted view of his smile, now a grimace, Smoker, 2013, Nursery, 2011, with their flavor of old post cards, A Theory of Everything, 2013, two life-size rabbits engaged in sex strategically placed toward the street window to attract the passers-by attention, several neo-classical sculptures with a twist like Lady Finger, 2013 which includes an anatomical representation of the thorax and abdomen of a female below a perfect face or Jacob the Doll Collector, 2013, with his cherub-like  features but a dislocated body, the list goes on. Aura, 2013, includes shackles, a zebra ankle, a plastic heart,... an accumulation of unrelated objects, like in a curios store. Romanticism is not far with Opati Ja (Sleep), 2013, the view of a railroad to nowhere bathing in a dark sunset, hopeless.
A medley of styles  (figurative, pop, neo-classical...), with a very European flavor of decadence "de bon ton", hardly provocative, the works generate little emotions.
Back to the title and Meta-Modernism, Vermeulen and van den Akker defined the movement as "an oscillation between Modernism and Post-Modernism...must embrace doubt, as well as hope and melancoly, sincerity and irony, affect and apathy, the personal and the political..."


At the end of my visit, I felt like the collector in the painting Portrait of a Meat-Modernist Collector, 2013, surrounded by disconnected art works, somewhat confused, looking at an elusive future.

photographs by the author:

Mirror, 2013
The Laughing Man. Blame it on Vegas, 2013
General Strategy, 2013
Portrait of a Meta Modernist Collector, 2013

bibliography "Learning From Las Vegas", Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Born, Steven Izenour, MIT Press, 1972

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