Sunday, March 8, 2009

Tara Dononvan @ CAC

I’ve always been impressed with Tara Donovan’s vision of transforming ordinary everyday materials (such as styrofoam cups, paper, scotch tape, pins, toothpicks) into extraordinary artwork. Her sculptures invent a world between artificial compositions and natural landscapes. So when I learned that her works are on exhibition at CAC, I was thrilled and went with Ian yesterday. Perhaps I shouldn’t have taken such a long ride at this moment, but I just couldn’t resist the opportunity and hopefully this experience would spark some artistic cells in my little darling’s growing brain ^_^

It was at least my third time in Zaha’s building. This time the lobby ceiling becomes part of the exhibition with Tara’s famous cloud-like hanging piece. Before then, I only saw photos of this piece hanging in an empty minimalist space where the sculpture exhibits a pure and overwhelming gesture. But here it quietly integrates with Zaha’s dynamic interior, which reflects Tara’s idea of making the sculptures grow out of architectural space.

The magical part of seeing the real works lies in the shift of scale. It offers the viewer a fascinating process of discovery as you move around the sculptures. One of my favorites is a wall piece called ‘Haze’. At the first sight, it appears to be an icy and spongy surface with naturally formed bumps. When you walk closer, it seems softer and more translucent. The reflection of your moving body also makes the surface alive. When you get real close, you are amazed that the material is nothing more than clear plastic drinking straws – thousands of them! Another phenomenal piece is made of tiny metallic film tape rings which form huge organic patterns filling up three consecutive walls. I looked at a small portion and then looked up at the large pattern, the rings suddenly appeared to be shiny water bubbles glowing and expanding endlessly in front of my eyes.

Most of the sculptures are so large, which makes me wonder how they are shipped and assembled for each exhibition. My best guess is that each piece is kept in several parts in which the units are glued together. These parts are then put together on site, and necessary adjustments are made to make the piece fit into the specific exhibition space. Even like that, it still requires a huge amount of time to prepare for the show.

Unfortunately, photos are only allowed in few areas. But this unique experience Tara brought to me was permanently imprinted in my head. When we walked down the fancy stair to the first floor, we found the lobby was fully packed due to a performance. We watched for a while, soaked in the festival atmosphere rarely found in downtown Cincy, and then headed for IKEA for some baby stuff. It was a gorgeous feel-like-summer day filled with satisfaction…

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