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Meg Cranston: Leo Koenig. (New York).



"Magical Death," Meg Cranston's most recent show, presented five portraits of the artist as a pinata. Papier-mache mockups of the artist herself, "dressed" in colored-tissue outfits--striped pants, red shorts, shod shod  
v.
Past tense and a past participle of shoe.


shod
Verb

a past of shoe

Adj. 1.
 in boots or adorned with an elaborate headdress--hung from the ceiling in a variety of poses. Fabricated by Cranston with the help of her art students, the pieces represented a semi-sincere attempt to portray her physically, as well as a direct send-up of the cult of the artist.

With Kippenbergeresque energy and wit, Cranston has been investigating aspects of body and soul for several years. Recent shows have featured drawings and sculptures of bad teeth and their imagined physiognomic phys·i·og·no·my  
n. pl. phys·i·og·no·mies
1.
a. The art of judging human character from facial features.

b. Divination based on facial features.

2.
a.
 significance, a large composite photograph composite photograph
n.
A photograph made by combining two or more separate photographs.
 of an average-size American, and a performance about the life of Marvin Gaye. This new work drew on Cranston's long-standing interest in anthropology: The press release revealed that the word pinata derives from "pine of Attis," Attis being a god of vegetation once worshiped in the Near East, whose devotees hung objects as offerings from pine trees and then felled them with sticks. With their westward migration from Asia Minor to Spain (and thence thence  
adv.
1. From that place; from there: flew to Helsinki and thence to Moscow.

2. From that circumstance or source; therefrom.

3. Archaic From that time; thenceforth.
 to Mexico), pinatas eventually evolved into Catholic effigies ef·fi·gy  
n. pl. ef·fi·gies
1. A crude figure or dummy representing a hated person or group.

2. A likeness or image, especially of a person.
 for the Seven Deadly Sins.

Cranston named each pinata Magical Death (all 2002) after a 1973 ethnographic film depicting the shamanic ceremonies of the Yanomami people of Brazil. In the film, the Yanomami attack effigies of the children of enemy tribes, inflicting a "magical death" that ensures the Yanomami's own survival. Cranston invites members of the audience to enact a similar ritual murder on her own pendant form--if they would be willing to pay for the pleasure by buying the work.

A certain self-laceration undergirds the project, as it probably does all forms of self-portraiture, yet Cranston manages, by holding the act of violence in abeyance A lapse in succession during which there is no person in whom title is vested. In the law of estates, the condition of a freehold when there is no person in whom it is vested. In such cases the freehold has been said to be in nubibus (in the clouds), in pendenti , to make the implicit masochism masochism (măs`əkĭzəm), sexual disorder in which sexual arousal is derived from subjection to physical and emotional degradation.  almost funny. The element of "sacrifice" suggested in these Meg-shaped pinatas shares little with the "look at me" gloss of a Mariko Mon performance or the "I'm so .pathetic" self-exposure in Tracey Emin's work, the excessive narcissism narcissism (närsĭs`ĭzəm), Freudian term, drawn from the Greek myth of Narcissus, indicating an exclusive self-absorption. In psychoanalysis, narcissism is considered a normal stage in the development of children.  of which (even if narcissism in reverse) only reinscribes the grandiosity of the Artist. Cranston's far more modest art might consider the above a deadly sin. Her self-presentation doesn't take itself too seriously; it just hangs there, fertile. Lurking somewhere behind its apparently hard conceptual shell is a sweetness you can almost taste.
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Author:Israel, Nico
Publication:Artforum International
Date:May 1, 2003
Words:397
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