I spent a couple hours this afternoon at the Studio Museum in Harlem. This was an excellent outing.
The centerpiece of the current exhibits is Kalup Linzy: If it Don’t Fit. Linzy’s website describe the artist’s work: “Linzy is doing to daytime soaps what John Waters did to his Baltimore childhood. Part Richard Pryor, part RuPaul, Linzy writes, directs, and stars (wigged, heeled, and often scantily clad) in this series of shorts that are tender and vulgar, hilarious and heartfelt.”
The If it Don’t Fit exhibition has some 20 videos that Linzy made over the past seven years, a series of drawings as well as a one-night acoustic performance. The videos were wickedly funny and included a spin on a soap opera along with some music videos and some other shorts. The soap take was my favorite as it seemed to take a lot of soap conventions and turn them inside out.
I only got to see a small portion of the three hours of video available. Most of it was from The Pursuit of Happyness program. I’m considering a return visit so I can see the rest of the programs because it was entertaining and enlightening to see something that isn’t available in the mainstream stuff I usually see.
Another exhibit I loved was Shinique Smith’s Like it Like That. From a distance, as seen in the image at right, this looks like cool graffiti. But when you get close to it you find all kinds of things embedded in the paint, such as images that could have come from Tiger Beat and others from pop culture like Superman. You could easily spend a few hours studying all the different elements, and get an idea of what the artist is like too since everything in the mural represents her personal affects and taste.
All of the works here were fascinating, and some were slightly disturbing (I wish I’d scribbled down the work that brought the most discussion from this outing… it was a piece that the more you looked at it the more you saw… things like a mask that looked like Darth Vader, a goat head, a tree that seemed to have a face like a Pac-Man ghost, a bunny, cherubs. Everyone had a slightly different take on it). Pleasantly, the museum was also not overwhelming. When you go some place like MoMA or The Metropolitan Museum of Art there is so much stuff so very categorized, it gets a little overwhelming. Here, the overall facility is smaller and the arrangement seemed more chaotic (to borrow the word of one of the people I was with) which gave each room a great energy.
I’ll be keeping an eye on this place to see what other exhibits they put up because I think it would be worth a return trip.
Unrelated blog note: This is post 1,000! That’s 1,000 random bits of information that we’ve posted since March 2006. Stay tuned for the next 1,000.