Visiting the Whitney Museum of American Art’s exhibit “Rituals of Rented Island”, I got to see “happenings” from history that made a big impact during the time it was created and until today. As it only exists in documentation today, the artworks displayed in the museum were able to give me an idea on the reasons why they were made, which could have possibly came from political, social, and cultural references.
One of the artworks that caught my eye was Jack Smith’s Collage named Untitled and was created in 1977. This was an interesting collage to me because of the pictures that were cut up and were put to over lap each other. Pictures that Jack Smith added to the collage were symbols of the Nazi sign, this refers back to Hitler and the Holocaust. There is also a picture of a money bill near it. I believe Jack Smith wanted to reveal the corruption that went on during these times with greed, money, and simply hatred. I might have not attended the original happening and been around the time where many Jewish people were getting killed. But it didn’t change my understanding of the piece because the knowledge I have based on the Holocaust.
Another happening I chose was “Baby Ikki, 1978 and 2012” by Michael Smith. This was a very interesting documentation as it showed a video of Michael Smith dressed up in toddler attire, wearing a oversized diaper, undersized sunglasses, and drinking from a baby bottle. As he was dressed as this, he crawled around the sidewalks and streets of NYC. As I watched the video, below it there were clothes similar to the toddler attire Michael Smith was wearing that day. This gave me a better perspective of Michael Smith’s absurd personality. I believe Michael’s intentions were to show people that it’s okay to be carefree and weird. Not to care about what other people think. Expressing your creative thoughts by going to a whole other level and creating this persona. He might also wanted to get away from any problems he or the world was dealing with at the time and nothing is a better way than causing a scene in the middle of traffic and making strangers laugh.
The last happening I chose was “Kipper Kids” where performance photographs and video excerpts were shown. These two men would throw paint on each other naked with distorted faces insides a ring filled with balloons. These men went above and beyond to be creative and I believe they did this to distract themselves and other people from political issues that were going on around that time. Attending the original event, I would be able to take in the problems that were going on around that time and their performance and be able to separate one from the other and just think optomisticly of my surroundings.
Artist: Jack Smith
Title: “Untitled 1977”
Title: “Untitled 1977”
Artist: Michael Smith
Title: "Baby Ikki 1978 and 2012"
Medium: Changing station, baby bottle, sunglasses, video, color sound, 4:17mins.
Artist: Kipper Kids
Title: “Kipper Kids”
Medium: Performance, photographs, and video excerpts