(originally published 5/31/11 in KnightBlog)
Much of the work on display tends toward the conceptual. I’m thinking ofWilfredo Prieto’s "Infidelity" (2009), for instance, which is nothing more than a blue pen and a red pen cap arranged in way that suggests they’re about to meet. (I admit to feeling immediately annoyed by it, then being unable to resist its cheeky simplicity.)
I found other pieces more resonant, like Pascale Marthine Tayou’s powerful "Jpegafrica/Africagift" (2006), a pile of crumpled paper flags of all the countries on the African continent, and Rivane and Sergio Neuenschwander’s 2002 video work, "Love Lettering." The video is shot inside a goldfish tank; many of the fish have small pieces of paper attached to their tails with words like “wish,” “hotel,” “eyes” and “you” printed on them. Turns out it’s a love letter, broken up and ultimately unreadable, except in kinetic, disconnected fragments.
For me, the most exciting and interesting piece was a made-for-TV work by the late, Detroit-born installation and performance artist James Lee Byars (who, I was thrilled to learn, will be the subject of a solo show at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit in 2013). "World Question Center" is a weird, wonderful program that was broadcast live on primetime Belgian television in 1969. In it, Byars, surrounded by a ring of people wearing fascinating garments of his design, communicates by telephone with several dozen important thinkers of the age.