Good morning, Thursday. How's it? I hope everyone is hanging in there on this emotional roller coaster of an era. I've been up, down, and in between of late. The sense of purgatory is lifting a bit, but I'm just wondering what's on the other side of this, and do we really feel up to "business as usual"? I'm not so sure.
Anyway, last weekend I got to see an awesome show at the Brooklyn Museum. The KAWS show is a must-see. If you are unfamiliar, KAWS is an American artist whose large-scale sculptures and riffs on pop culture are iconic for their street art cred. Back when I was living in Miami in the early 2000s and working for the country's hottest agency, we were obsessed with artists like KAWS. And the show did not disappoint. It was big, fun, and tremendously entertaining.
But besides the brilliance and pop-cultural lovefest of the work, I found the show experience fascinating. Because it's no longer enough to look at works of art, you have to be able to photograph yourself in front of them. Stay with me here.
Remember when you used to look at art in a museum and, well, look at it? That's no longer enough to sell out a show in 2021. What's so striking about an artist like KAWS is that today's Instagram generation wants to show you themselves with the art so that they, in a way, become a part of the art itself. It's WILD. Throughout the entire show (which was perfectly safe and socially distanced), we had to wait several times for people to stop taking selfies in front of the pieces to see the work itself. Annoying? Yes. But a fascinating moment in culture and how we experience art itself. This is not news, ps. But it was the first time I was hyper-aware of how social media has completely changed us, how we consume, how we connect, how we see. Does it diminish the experience itself or enhance it? I'm sure you could argue either way, but one thing's for sure- to have a successful show at a museum these days, you have to present something interactive and wholly Instagrammable. I, for one, would rather eat my own teeth than pose with works of art, but that's just me. I am way more interested in the art itself than my role in it. I can't help thinking of my anthropology classes in college, where we talked about the uncertainty principle in quantum physics and how it's ultimately changed once something is viewed. Morph that into our current obsession with photographing ourselves, and you've got a bit of a schism. Does art change once we interact with it? It's worth exploring over a bottle of pinot noir or two. Who's game? I'm rabid for boozy conversations of depth.
Also, the show feels perfectly staged for a world going through a pandemic. It is full of pop culture nostalgia, and branded collabs and the superfans are out in full effect, as evidenced from the line to get in the gift shop. I myself succumbed and bought one of his famous Companion figurines. I got caught up with the superfans and wanted a piece of the dream. But did I pose in front of the pieces? No. I did not, though I was well aware that the inevitable voyeurism threaded throughout my DNA became its very own exhibit. Checking out all the cool kids flashing peace signs and smiles in front of the work was almost as interesting as the work itself.
So if you're looking for a bit of pop amidst the purgatory of the pandemic, check it out. The work itself is fun in that Warhol, Peter Max kind of way, and the experience is an excellent indicator of where all experiential events are headed.
Cause that's what's up this observational Wednesday in the 718. Yours, in pop culture purveyance and culture shifts. XO