Sunday, 19 December 2010

Horowitz - Minimalist works from the holocaust museum

One of the boons of Frozen Boring's Travel Cliche is the opportunity to visit things for which you wouldn't normally have the time. If you are, as perhaps you may be, looking to kill half an hour near Dundee train station you can visit Jonathon Horowitz's 'Minimalist Works from the Holocaust Museum' at the Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre. It's free and therefore worth a look.
  Horowitz's is an acutely political exhibit - produced as his response to the four pieces commissioned for the Washington DC Holocaust museum, which he describes  as 'blank' and 'equally at home in a museum, a corporate body, or someone's living-room'. 'Minimalist works' won't be on a Starbucks' wall soon  but that doesn't mean it is as gripping as Horowitz wants it to be. The video installation "Apocalypto Now" has a good pun going for it but only really says something already obvious: that Mel Gibson is quite, quite cuckoo. The blown-up picture of an Israeli tank on its way to Lebanon could be deadened by this familiar technique (look at the size of the grains, it's a picture of a picture and so forth) were it not for the pink ribbon placed on its fuselage. Horowitz may be simply alienating the tank from itself (like the peace symbol on the Vietnam GI's helmet) or alluding to his own sexuality. I like to think he's criticizing the absorption of LGBTI activism into post-liberal imperialism.

    'Minimalist Works' at first seems little different from the mass of video installations and pop art objects that are now so common as to turn up regularly on Dundee's waterfront. Phillip Glass plays in the background: a bed (why?) sits beneath a Stars and Stripes re-imagined in the colours of the rainbow flag. But there is more here. Three clear donation boxes (for 'Behind the mask' an LGBTI organisation in Africa, PETA and the Palestinian Red Crescent) double as 'vetrines' in a commendably Beusyian gesture. Two works arrest the viewer and carry the weight of the subject matter. One is "Crucifix for Two", a simple tandem cross. If there can be a crucifix for two, where will the exponential increase in the passion end?  The other, which did stop me as I walked, is a replica of the sign that read 'Arbeti Mach Frei'. It is wrought, massive and, most of all, broken.

  Perhaps I should have stayed longer. But I had a train to catch.

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