Behold, Virgil Marti at the Hirshhorn

Virgil Marti
detail of Directions, an installation by Virgil Marti and Pae White. This is one of Marti’s chandeliers, with a faux macrame window treatment by White in the background

I stumbled into the Hirshhorn yesterday, just before they closed, and lo and behold, there was that installation by Virgil Marti and Pae White that Roberta had mentioned here.

The lobby of the Hirshhorn is modern and unsparingly spare, so to see this pair, with their rec-room excesses was pretty funny. Marti contributed his glass chandeliers hung from fabulous crochet-covered wires, gold-coated chicken-bone curtains (4/10/07: got a note from Virgil and they’re actually casts of human bones) Everything of Virgil’s except the glass chandeliers themselves referred to some kind of stitchery and fabric–crochet, macrame, drapes, etc. White supplied a gold decorative pattern on some of the windows (it reminded me of macrame and a traditional network of bamboo-patterns crisscrossing wallpaper, but alive with surprises) and some chairs that refused to take shape, humpy things covered with a felted fabric patterned with newspaper headlines and stories. People did rest in them. (4/10/07: This paragraph has also been rewritten to correct the artist of the decals on the windows).

Detail of the chicken-bone curtain by Virgil Marti
Detail of the chicken-bone curtain by Virgil Marti

The chicken bone curtains almost looked like they belonged in that austere space, somehow because of their airy elegance–cool and metallic references to hippie beaded curtains. Not that committed hippie vegetarians could possibly approve of the dinosaur-sized chicken bones, faux or not.

The macrame/bamboo window stickers were also ultimately anti-hippie in their baroque gold coloring. It’s macrame gone palatial. As for the baronial chandeliers that ignore traditional symmetry and snake around in the air, while referencing moose antler decor, they too are quite palatial, but their crocheted wires bring me right back to hippie days.

detail of chairs from Directions installation. The chairs were made by Pae White.

White’s chairs are rec room classics, beat up, shapeless masses hidden beneath her throws. There was nothing elegant about these, just shameless lumpenness of the proletariat–until suddenly they start to look like throws covering humping bodies. People loved them and felt comfortable sitting in them, even in that forbidding lobby.

Stephan Balkenhol
Man With Black Pants, by Stephan Balkenhol

I also stopped at the John Baldessari-curated exhibit, Ways of Seeing, culled from the collection. I took some pictures of the things I especially enjoyed, like Stephan Balkenhol’s Man with Black Pants, which reminded me for quite different reasons of Olav Westphalen (content and figures) and Isaac Resnikoff (technique and material). The piece also reminded me of The Lives of Others, which won the Oscar for best foreign film (if you haven’t seen it, do; it’s especially relevant in this time of our governmental spying on its own citizens, a difference of degree separating it from the East German system, but unsettling nonetheless).

Jim Hodges
View, by Jim Hodges

Jim Hodges’ View, a mirror mosaic, seemed awfully smart and great to look at, and so did Anish Kapoor’s At the Hub of Things, shaped like a giant rubber footing for a stove-top grate. It nearly disappears into its own blue-black hole and shimmers with its absorbent power. And while I’m on sculptures, Man Ray’s baguette, painted blue and isolated on a large pedestal, looked pretty darned fresh.

For more faves, check out my Flickr set.