Report: “Bjork” at MoMA

Posted by The G on March 9, 2015 under Artsy Fartsy | Read the First Comment

Photos by G.  Various Artists.

Bjork wears Marjan Pejoski’s Swan Dress (2001)

Bjork wears Marjan Pejoski’s Swan Dress (2001)

As a big fan of singer/artist Bjork, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the Museum of Modern Art would host a “mid-career retrospective” on the Icelandic goddess in 2015.  I will report on the exhibit in a moment because by now, if you’ve seen any press on this exhibit, it has been overwhelmingly negative.  I have to agree, but only because Bjork is such a unique and amazing artist, the exhibit does not do her career much justice, especially to those who use this exhibit to get an education in all things Bjork.  I enjoyed myself, but for a retrospective, so many great possibilities for a wonderful exhibit fell through the cracks.

Partial gallery view of Bjork's singles covers.

Partial gallery view of Bjork’s singles covers.

The show opened to the public on March 8, 2015, so naturally Gail of Worleygig and I checked the show out on the first day.  I cannot say this is how your experience will go, but we got to the museum around 11 o’clock am and our timed ticket to view the exhibit was for 12:45, but you may want to prepare for a longer line, just in case.  The exhibit consists of 3 parts:  1. A screening room with a video for the song “Black Lake,” which has been specially commissioned for this exhibit.  The video is about 10 minutes long and is about Bjork’s breakup with artist Matthew Barney (whose collaborations with Bjork are ignored in the exhibit).  Second (and this is what you need timed tickets for) is “Songlines,” a quasi-immersive experience into each of Bjork’s solo albums, featuring handwritten lyrics, costumes and miscellaneous ephemera from her solo work.  Last, a screening room features all of Bjork’s music videos (though her last album “Biophilia”).

Bjork - All Is Full of Love

Bjork – All Is Full of Love

I guess this is as good as any place to start talking about what the exhibit lacks.  Bjork’s early career is completely ignored – from her childhood singing (she released her first album in 1977, in case you didn’t know) to her beginnings in various Icelandic punk bands (and one of them was called Tippi Tikarrass which translates to “Cork the Bitch’s Ass.”  The public at large should be educated in this!)  Also ignored, the band that put Bjork on the world map in the late 1980s – The Sugarcubes.  Instead, you start with Bjork’s solo album “Debut” (1993).  You walk through a hallway that features running loops of each of Bjork’s tours – packaged in a room that is not conducive to spending lots of time and makes the non-diehard gloss over the amazing performance artist that Bjork is in concert.  You are given a headset and you get to hear a story that has nothing to do with the recording of the music and instead tells you the journey of a girl, whose story may or may not be true, but again taking the focus away from all the rules Bjork was breaking as she embarked on her solo career – working with cutting edge producers, making artistic videos, making singles that had extremely diverse (even if sometimes annoying) remixes, her usage of interesting artwork for her releases and most of all, her carving out a place in the music landscape with her unique lyrics and quirky personality, never selling out by going mainstream and always remaining a true avant-garde artist.

Bjork - Venus as a Boy Lyrics

Bjork – Venus as a Boy Lyrics

Typically each room focuses on one of her solo albums (aside from the remix album “Telegram,” the soundtrack to her collaboration with Matthew Barney “Drawing Restraint 9” her own “Selmasongs” record, which is the soundtrack to the critically acclaimed film she starred in called “Dancer in the Dark” and even the “Army of Me” cover album, where 20 versions of that song which were submitted by fans and the moneys from the project went to 2004 Tsunami victim relief).  The exhibit does not benefit from having the music videos separated from the props on display from each album because as you see the evolution of her videos, you will also hear the evolution of her music.  For the die-hards, we already know this, but to someone discovering the world of Bjork for the first time, they have to dig really deep to get some answers, and Bjork’s music can be extremely challenging at times.  Besides, seeing clips of appropriate videos would at least give the uninitiated a bigger clue into what Bjork is all about, as they are not likely to sit down for 2 hours to watch Bjork’s videos in a separate part of the museum.

Bjork by Alexander McQueen

Bjork by Alexander McQueen

Some of the most iconic outfits Bjork has worn are on display from a dress made by Alexander McQueen to the infamous Swan Dress, and in fact, the mannequins look eerily like Bjork.  There’s nothing in the exhibit to tell you how she ended up working with these people or how the costumes fit into the theme from the album.  Also absent are sales figures, track lists, several officially released coffee table books about Bjork’s work, awards and any sort of mention of her collaborations with the likes of Thom Yorke of Radiohead or writing the title track for Madonna’s album “Bedtime Stories.”  Even the groundbreaking interactive “Biophilia” app, which was acquired by MoMA, doesn’t even make an appearance!  Whoever curated this exhibit did a huge disservice to Bjork’s career.

Bjork - Biophilia Era

Bjork – Biophilia Era

The items on display are certainly cool and interesting, and if you are a die-hard, seeing so many infamous Bjork-items are a treat, so I enjoyed the exhibit, as did Gail, a lover of art and not a huge fan of Bjork’s music.  However, there have been many exhibits where I was unfamiliar with the artist on display as I walked into the show and when I left, I felt I had a much better understanding of their work.  With this Bjork show, it is definitely not the case.

Bjork - Volta Era

Bjork – Volta Era

I think you can appreciate this exhibit no matter what your level of Bjork fandom, but if you don’t take the time to dig deep with her work, which many viewers will not, the true artistry of Bjork’s career will not be seen or heard, and that is a tragedy.  Let us know what you think if you go in the comments section.

Bjork” at MoMa runs through June 7, 2015.

Bjork - Volta Era

Bjork – Volta Era

Bjork - Joga Costume

Bjork – Joga Costume

Bjork - Hyperballad Shoes

Bjork – Hyperballad Shoes

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The Met Extends McQueen Exhibit Hours

Posted by The G on July 12, 2011 under Artsy Fartsy | Comments are off for this article

Photo by G.  Art by Alexander McQueen.

Savage Beauty by Alexander McQueen. Now showing at The Met in New York

If you haven’t seen the “Savage Beauty” exhibit by Alexander McQueen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, you must!  Due to high demand, the hours where the exhibit is on display have been extended.

Starting July 22, 2011, the Met will allow museum members in at 8:30 a.m., an hour before the show opens to the public. (Only the museum’s 81st Street entrance and 80th Street garage will be open for these viewings.)  And from August 4th to the 7th the exhibition will remain open until 9:00 p.m.

Additional hours for the show will continue to be offered on Mondays, when the museum is generally closed to the public. Monday tickets, which cost $50, are available at the Met and on its website

The exhibit closes on August 7, 2011.


“Savage Beauty” by Alexander McQueen at the Met

Posted by The G on May 23, 2011 under Artsy Fartsy | Read the First Comment

Photos by G.  Art by Alexander McQueen.

"Savage Beauty" by Alexander McQueen. Now showing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York through July 31, 2011

“Savage Beauty” by Alexander McQueen is not just the name of a retrospective of the late fashion designer’s wearable works of art and Haute Couture. “Savage Beauty” is a perfect two word representation of the life of an extremely creative artist whose life was cut short when he committed suicide in February 2010.  Here’s a few things you should expect when you go see “Savage Beauty” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York:  you’ll most likely experience a minimum of an hour long wait to get inside the exhibit (which is beyond worth the time investment).  You’ll also see 6 galleries (The Romantic Mind, Romantic Gothic and the Cabinet of Curiosities, Romantic Exoticism, Romantic Nationalism, Romantic Primitivism and Romantic Naturalism) filled with some of the most interesting and creative designs the fashion world has ever seen.  It’s no wonder that celebrities and musicians alike (such as Madonna, Lady Gaga and Bjork) wore outfits designed by Alexander McQueen.  The looks he created are unforgettable.

Savage Beauty

Not only are the fashions he designed mind-blowing (from outfits made out of feathers, horsehair, metal, glass, fresh and fabric flowers, wood, razor clam and muscle shells) but the presentation of his works is also incredible.  Each room has a distinct (and equally spooky) vibe to it.  Clips of past runway shows appear on video screens that are sometimes shown encapsulated inside a large mirror box, sometimes shown as a wall projection and even appear on the ceiling on a large flat screen TV.  Sound effects of suffocation are ever present in each room as if to foreshadow McQueen’s death from asphyxiation.  It’s both savage and beautiful.

The "Armadillo Shoe"

If you are not in the New York area, you can see a couple of video tours of this incredible exhibit on New York Magazine’s website or on the official website of The Met. “Savage Beauty” by Alexander McQueen runs until July 31, 2011 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (located at 1000 5th Avenue in New York) and should not be missed under any circumstance.

"I find beauty in the grotesque, like most artists. I have to force people to look at things." - Alexander McQueen

RIP Alexander McQueen

Posted by The G on February 12, 2010 under GNN | Comments are off for this article

Photo by G.

The Alexander McQueen Store in New York on February 12, 2010

The fashion world was stunned yesterday with the news that designer Alexander McQueen took his own life in his native England.  Today in New York, I went past his store in the Meat-Packing District to see that the store was closed and well wishers had left flowers and candles in front of the store in tribute.  So sad.

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