Thursday, October 28, 2010

Collateral Matters @ MOCC

Photo Credit: ABJ Seattle Glass Online 2010

                                ABJ Seattle Glass Online October 2010:

The Museum of Contemporary Craft is holding the show by Ai Weiwei called "Dropping the Urn."  In it he uses very old Chinese ceramic vessels in different ways: One he pulverizes, another he paints with the Coca Cola logo, another series of photos shows him dropping one and it shattering on the floor.  There are also tromp l'oeil watermelons and sunflower seeds among other ceremic and found objects.

Adjacent to Ai Weiwei and disturbing the quiet of the museum with it's clacking type writer is Collateral Matters, an exhibit of records, photos, and other paper items relating to the crafts movement in Portland, by graphic designer and educator Kate Bingaman-Burt and designer Clifton Burt.
Orange clipboards hung on the wall, one per artist, hold stacks of informal documents, some are typed, some are handwritten.  I think the Burts may have had a lot of fun going through the MOCC archives and picking out what to show the public.  Clifton Burt confirms the adventure on the blog BangBack, "But most exiting has been witnessing how organizations’ logos and visual identities evolved through the decades; notable in these archives were MoMA, Cranbrook, local Portland businesses, and of course the Museum of Contemporary Craft’s own identity shifts —including its name." But due to the show's extreme (orange) organization, the fun of the dig was lost on me.  The show is best enjoyed with some foreknowledge of the Portland craft scene and a peerless curiosity about the minutiae of that world. 

Photo Credit: ABJ Seattle Glass Online 2010

For some reason fame and fortune transform simple set lists and shopping receipts into covetable objects soaked in the artist's life (see Ebay).  Without fame and fortune driving the show here, the papers remind me of what I have lying around my own house with the eccentric hope that I may really need the information one day...

I am the last person who should complain about the esoteric nature of a paper collection.  I have several "vaults" of information (including ABJ Seattle Glass Online), okay, slight hoards they are, surrounding themes of glass art and found in the street humor.  Collateral Matters proved to me that dusty newspaper clippings and flyers for art shows can have a greater meaning and can be enjoyed by a wide range of people, but not on their own.  For example, next door at Dropping the Urn the ancient Chinese pottery was updated.  In one case by being "forged" and counterfeited.  In another by being re-colored.  Or smashed to bits.   (It's the same reason Margaret Killagen's work appeals to me.  If I can't experience the neighborhoods she painted first hand then second best is not to look at their register recipts and cashbooks but to see her murals.)  What is documented is not just presented, but altered and updated.  Understandably that couldn't be done to the MOCC archives, but I would have been impressed if it had.

Collateral Matters and Dropping the Urn
Museum of Contemporary Craft
Portland, Oregon

August 26, 2010 – January 08, 2011

Tuesday through Saturday 11 am to 6 pm

724 NW Davis St
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 223-2654

Burt, C. "Collateral Matters."Aug. 24, 2010. BangBack. Accessed October 29, 2010.

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