Man Ray in Bogotá

The Art Museum of the Bank of the Republic, in Colombia, arranged to bring a travelling exhibit of work by Man Ray to Bogotá, which opened in November 2010. I went to see it yesterday,
Friday 7 January, and enjoyed it very much. I
would recommend it to anyone, for a variety of reasons.
But what struck me were the expressions of the faces of the public, as well as the incredible number of digital cameras being used openly to photograph individual pieces in the show. WHAT is going on here!?
In 1993, when I was an art critic for a local English language newspaper, I had to be accompanied by the head of the museum’s security in order to photograph exhibits with a simple Pentax, ISO 400 black and white film and NO FLASH. I didn’t even photograph individual works, but rather, general views showing the works and the spectators. I did it to illustrate the critical reviews I would write later.
So why do these people tramp through an exhibit photographing Man Ray’s photos and other works. I’m sure Man Ray would see the irony and even the joke in this, but I was honestly stunned by the lack of appreciation for the art. I guess these days, nothing exists if it can not be digitally committed to a memory card for all eternity.
The other thing that impressed me was the expression of anticipation or sometimes bewilderment on the part of the spectators. I thought perhaps they were expecting the artworks to burst into songs and dances, to become animated like cartoons, to “say something” in the most literal manner possible. How very sad that the general public is no longer able to understand the intellectual conversation that goes on between the work of art and the person looking at it.
But I’m glad I went. I enjoyed the intellectual conversation with Man Ray through his work and felt, for a brief while, that I’d spent time at a wonderful cocktail party–scintillating conversation, beauty and wonderful ideas, all mixing together in a gorgeous setting. FAB-ulous, darling, simply FAB-fulous!

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3 Comments

Filed under Untold Tales

3 responses to “Man Ray in Bogotá

  1. On behalf of all of us out here in the blogosphere, I apologize for cutting and pasting in general though I neither cut nor pasted any of your stuff. I understand the frustration for artists whose “work” is stolen. As for my blog “islandoracle.blogspot.com” I would welcome anyone quoting me in the entirety. Cutting and pasting is a type of editing of prose that can take things entirely out of context. To do less would be like stealing the Queen out of a chess set… it leaves both the victim and the thief with nothing of value.

    • Thanks for your note! I had a nasty little experience at Michigan State (I went back to school in my forties) when an MFA candidate married to a very successful psychiatrist asked to read a term paper I had written for a sociology class. I said sure. And guess what!? Two weeks later, she told me she’d left it somewhere and it disappeared! Oops! (And she was teaching ceramics at Hope College, near Grand Rapids.) I have a very short fuse on these things, and it got very much shorter when the chair of the Art & Art History Department actually quoted part of the term paper during a class I had with her. My jaw dropped open, I stared at her and she cut herself off in mid-sentence with a kind of clucking sound. Did she think I would not recognize my own writing!? And before I could ask her about her source, my original term paper miraculously reappeared, safe and sound. I’m flattered to be quoted, but please, reference the source. As for taking things out of context, well, that sounds like Charlie Sheen last night on “Piers Morgan Tonight” (9 p.m. CNN). Amazing how much he thinks his life has been taken out of context. Thanks again for your note, Phil!

  2. Thank you for writing. How do you plan to share the piece? I don’t mean to be obnoxious about this, but all my work carries the copyright notice at the beginning and end, which means usually that you can share only by recommending to others that they come to the blog and read it. Please do not paste it and send it to your friends. I do not authorize that kind of sharing. Create a link and let your friends find me. Thanks!

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