By Jonathan Blackwell
Echoing Teka’s words below, the Nasher Museum Blog is a wonderful departure from political discourse. In any such conversation I feel my own ignorance reflected back at me, much like a Black Mirror. In a better Black Mirror experience I recently visited the Nasher exhibition “Black Mirror/Espejo Negro: A Museum Installation by Pedro Lasch” after a conversation I had at work.
My manager Randy, (he’s doing very well in the blogosphere tonight) had recently viewed Black Mirrors while visiting the Nasher to see “El Greco to Velazquez”. He wondered why all the statues were turned around backwards. I’m sure he knew from the accompanying information on the walls, but I agree it’s more fun to go into work the next day and demand from co-workers what is so interesting about the rear-end of a Pre-Colombian statue!
To sum it up for Randy and the rest of us, in the center of the exhibition is small round disc encased in glass; a black lens of obsidian with a mirrored finish. Similar to a prized object of King Louis XIV, this was later called a Claude Mirror after the French atmospheric painter Claude Loraine. Before television and the Nasher there was the Claude Mirror, taken by French Aristocrats into nature where they would gaze in awe at the reflection of their surroundings in the mirror’s dark surface.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Globe, similar objects were displayed with the Aztec God Tezcatlipoca: “smoking mirrors” placed before burning incense. Cultures beyond the Aztecs hold other meanings for these dark treasures, ranging from Hypnotism & Necromancy to Incest, Narcissism, and Melancholy!
To relay the relationship further between black mirrors in Central and South America and those from Colonial Europe, Lasch has placed Pre-Colombian statues before smoky mirrors obscuring paintings from the period of El Greco. The earthen sculptures in three dimensions gaze upon two dimensional images representing colonial malaise. The dichotomy between natural and artificial is laid plain.
I took a score of notes to share the installation after reading Pedro Lach’s words, but I think it best to visit the Nasher. This show is a deep commentary on the world around us, landing on a myriad of levels that anyone can relate to. I’d say that’s the dictionary definition of “good art”. Come see what all the butt is about!