Ideal Settings: For Presentation and Display

Allan McCollum
and Louise Lawler
"Ideal Settings:
For Presentation and
Display. 1984.
Installation view.
In Louise Lawler's and Allan McCollum's collaborative installation, "For Presentation and Display: Ideal Settings," the very context and presentation of the contemporary artwork are foregrounded. The objects in the exhibition (lighting, display stands, and pedestals) theatrically mimic their own context. They ironically become substitutes for the "absent" art work.

The spectator enters the dimly lit back space of the gallery where an image of $200.00 (representing both the price of the commodity and the commodity itself) is projected onto the rear wall by a slide projector. A soft pink light, also projected on the back wall, captures the shadows of the overhead blue stage lights. These blue lights mysteriously illuminate the reflective opaque surfaces of some of the over 100 identical square, pedestal-like objects that are made out of hydrocal and painted with black shoe polish. All are mounted on a series of gray display stands in the center of the room.

The pedestals are somewhat haphazardly arranged, suggesting either the before or after of a display. The theatrical lighting magnifies its own effectiveness as a selling apparatus which attempts to create an aura around the original work of art. The entire arrangement looks like a sculptural model for a necropolis and resonates a powerful silence. These objects simulate the presence of the aura they are mocking.

We experience in these "ideal settings" an ironic reference to the art gallery as a stage for the spectacle of exchange, where works of art are given privileged and powerful positions. Here the art object and its context collapse into one commodity. By focusing on the gallery (that miniature market place of specialized goods) as a setting for and presentation of art objects, Lawler and McCollum make the viewer aware of the apparatus involved in packaging and selling these objects. (Diane Brown, October 2 - November 8 )

--Therese Lichtenstein

arts reviews
December, 1984

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