Saturday, July 7, 2007

"Interactivity" at McLeod Residence

Based on the length and depth of their press releases, I’m always a little confused when I actually enter the McLeod Residence. It’s hard to find the art, it’s hard to understand what I can find, and part of me leaves disappointed. I expect to walk into an art show, and I end up at somebody else’s party.

Part of the problem, I know, is ME – that I expect McLeod Residence to be a gallery, and they aren’t. They’re something else – a lounge/artlab/social experiment/clubhouse. They are a hybrid, an aggregate, a compound word - and so is the art they present. I enjoy that aspect and I'm up for the experiment.

What I find most challenging about McLeod Residence, however, is not the artwork. It’s the context in which I’m encountering it. There were some very bright spots in “Interactivity,” which opened yesterday. The works by Maggie Orth mixed art, craft, function, and technology in a really accessible way. The other works were not as well marked or as well displayed as Orth’s. I was a little mystified as to how to interact with some of them, and everybody else around was drinking with their backs turned to the art, so I didn’t have any clues. I should have printed out a copy of their press release and carried it with me as a guide. Or come on any night but the opening.

The bright side is that I’m still thinking about it the next day and I think there’s something to be said for leaving an art show filled with confusion – it’s so much better than disgust, anger, superiority, sadness, or apathy. When I leave confused, it means that something has triggered my internal questioning mechanism and I suppose I would rather be challenged by art than merely entertained or talked down to.

The show makes sense when I look at the press release and the website. There’s no doubt that the ideas are innovative and the artists are accomplished. But when I think back to the show itself, I’m still mystified. Either I just didn’t get it, or there was simply more to say about “Interactivity” than to see.

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