By Olisa Corcoran
I recently had the great fortune to see the The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl exhibition at the Miami Museum of Art. I’d been hugely inspired by the show (curated by the Nasher’s Trevor Schoonmaker) when I originally saw it at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in 2010.
It was thrilling to see the pieces in an entirely new gallery space. I was joined by a vinyl-loving companion who was experiencing the exhibition for the first time. We ricocheted from piece to piece and I excitedly showed and explained the works that I’d especially loved from the Nasher Museum show (for example, Dario Robleto’s Sometime Billie is All That Holds Me Together, 1998-99; vinyl records transformed into shirt buttons). Despite the relative familiarity of the art — I recorded the audio guide for The Record and saw the collection several times in Durham — seeing it again in Miami was an entirely new and, at times, jarring experience. I was most struck by the cacophony of sounds that was created by the audio elements in the various works bouncing off the gallery walls in Miami. To be frank, it was a little distracting. I don’t remember the sounds being so prevalent in the Nasher Museum gallery.
Satch Hoyt’s Celestial Vessel 2009, a luminous boat constructed from red vinyl records, was still gorgeous and dramatic, but somehow felt different, displayed as it was in Miami, hanging among the other pieces. It felt less dramatic, less like a great ship’s maidenhead, drawing us in to the exhibition, than it did hanging outside the main gallery, in the Great Hall at the Nasher Museum.
Slideshow from The Record at the Nasher Museum of Art 2010 Opening.
Also striking was seeing Xaviera Simmons’ mixed media installation Thundersnow Road, North Carolina, displayed in a small room on plywood walls, separate from the pristine white walls of the rest of the show. The raw textures made her backwoods scenes appear particularly rustic and raw.
At the Miami exhibition, I spent a lot of time with Taiyo Kimura’s Struggling with Records 2008-2010, a grid-like collection of sketches on papers ranging in size from approximately 8×10 inches to 1 inch squares. Strangely, I do not remember the drawings at all from the Nasher exhibition and I had to double check to see that they were indeed in the original show. I stood in front of Taiyo’s wonderful drawings, meditating on the fanciful images of records morphed into wild creatures, madly sketching in my notebook and all over my paper 3D glasses from Mark Soo’s huge c-prints of recording studios, That’s That’s Alright Alright Mama Mama 2008. I’ve been an amateur art enthusiast and regular museum-visitor for many years. This intense interaction with Kimura’s work did not happen in Durham; it was totally unique to the Miami Museum of Art exhibition. Was this because of its location in the gallery space? Something else? It made me wonder how much of my focus on one piece over another in my frequent museum forays is influenced by the choices made by the curator, rather than the work itself? Nonetheless, the Miami Museum of Art experience gave me many ideas for my own artwork and seeing the unusual collection of vinyl-inspired artwork in a new venue, with a fresh-eyed companion, made me appreciate the true joy of this wonderful exhibition once again.
The Record is traveling to the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, from July 14 – October 7, 2012. [We will post photos, quotes, et cetera during Schoonmaker’s west coast trip on this blog and on our Facebook and Twitter -Ed].