April 17, 2024


Simple Impartial Art

Look Again: 'The Double: Identity and Difference in Art Since 1900' at the National Gallery of Art

Look Again: ‘The Double: Identity and Difference in Art Since 1900’ at the National Gallery of Art

Constantly but especially relevant now, in gentle of the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the women’s revolution in Iran, Mary Kelly’s digital movie projection WLM Remix (2005) bit by bit merges two times in time: a photograph of a 1970 women’s liberation march and an image of its reenactment, arranged by the artist with her pupils additional than a few many years later on. Although record is performatively reenacted in Kelly’s movie to sign feminism’s ongoing urgency, the length of the previous and the need to recuperate it yet again and again is keenly felt in other places in the exhibition. Performing from a solitary photograph taken when he was a little one, Arshile Gorky began portray two portraits of himself and his mother around 1926. The artist’s mother, a victim of the Armenian genocide, died from starvation in his arms decades prior, and appears much more ghostly in the portrait the artist continued to operate on as late as 1942 (he stopped portray the other all around 1936). In 2016, Zoe Leonard reproduced her late mother’s likeness from an old photograph as properly, only she instantaneously photographed instead than little by little painted the unique snapshot twice.

Probably no artist has mined love and grief additional poignantly than Felix Gonzalez-Torres, best known for his heartbreaking installations prompted by the decline of his lover, Ross Laycock, to AIDS, which also killed Gonzalez-Torres yrs afterwards. Curator James Meyer ingeniously paired a single of these installations, “Untitled” (Enthusiasts – Paris) (1993), with a different manufactured by Roni Horn, titled Gold Mats, Paired—For Ross and Felix (1994/1995). Horn experienced at first created the operate as a one gold sheet which she then reproduced after Laycock’s death as a gesture for his grieving companion, who experienced admired the work’s unique iteration. The light emanating from Gonzalez-Torres’ set up, which consists of two strings of illuminated bulbs hung from the ceiling, is mirrored in Horn’s two crinkled sheets, one laid on major of the other on the floor. In each individual perform, materials parts that are alike in structure also radiate vitalities that are equally specific and synced. Alongside one another, the two installations serve as a double-layered meditation on queer twoness.

The functions by Gonzalez-Torres and Horn, the two Gorky portraits, and the Rauschenberg paintings all belong to various museum collections, so their reunion alone would make The Double experience like an critical and rare moment in museum curation. The probable consequences of the display are much more significant and infinitely sophisticated, implicating our wishes and fears as individuals navigating a environment that we tend to outline in phrases of likeness and difference. But sharp curation can make these challenges approachable for the open and affected individual viewer. The proposition is very simple: Glance, then seem once again.