Monday, May 18, 2009

Two Installations

I recently visited two excellent installation shows downtown, Maya Lin's Systematic Landscapes at the Corcoran and Jean Shin's Common Thread's At the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Both artists are Asian-American women and both have created works that engage the viewer directly with large pieces and broad ideas, but each has taken a very different strategy. Lin, who we all know from the Vietnam War Memorial, has taken actual landscapes and reconceptualized them as abstracts. There sculptures of real lake beds put on wood sculptures on pedestals and a full room-sized wire topography putting us below an imagined ocean. On a smaller scale, Lin cars new reliefs into atlases, creating new and unique landscapes within landscapes.

While Lin's landscapes are intentionally devoid of human interaction, Shin's work is very much the creation of humanity, specifically those things which we have cast off. Shin takes materials ranging from discarded pill bottles and old keyboard keys to donated sweaters and trophies in creating her work. The pieces engage the viewer to look closer (many of the trophies are from BCC, oddly enough) or to literally continue the conversation in the case of her keyboard contraption, which allows users to continue entering new text on an attached screen. I won't ruin too much of the surprise, but if you want a peak, there are a number of images up on flick.

Both exhibits are on display through July. Smithsonian, is free and the Corcoran ain't but both exhibits are not to be missed.

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