Artwork museums have developed a repute for inducing a specific type of exhaustion. Navigating crowds to be able to get a glimpse at masterpieces, feeling overstimulated in blockbuster exhibits, and standing on onerous concrete flooring leads to what’s generally known as “museum fatigue.” Exacerbating issues is the truth that museums simply don’t have sufficient snug seating.
For an exhibition at moCa Cleveland, Brooklyn-based artist Finnegan Shannon has taken issues into their very own arms, with a present that requires no strolling and presents ample seating. After arriving through elevator, guests are invited to take a seat on couches and chairs whereas a conveyor belt parades by them a rolling show of artworks by Shannon’s artist friends. The setup’s closest proxy is conveyor belt sushi—however it is a feast for the eyes, somewhat than the style buds.
The delicate seating feels decidedly extra home than institutional; Shannon sourced the chairs and couches from native thrift shops. (They even discovered a small stool with a puzzle spelling out the primary identify of the present’s curator, Lauren Leving.) And Shannon tied all of it along with a few of their very own homey touches, like embroidered pillows bearing fluorescent conveyor belts and cut-out cardboard letters on the wall spelling out phrases like DON’T MIND IF WE DO and WE BEING SILLY AND SERIOUS. Shannon additional tends to their viewers’ our bodies with DIY air purifiers manufactured from duct tape and field followers that assist alleviate Covid’s ongoing danger.
The present inspired guests to decelerate. On the wall, customized clocks informed the day of the week somewhat than the hour of the day, as if asking, what’s the frenzy? It’s a present about selling relaxation and assuaging museum fatigue, however extra particularly, it’s born of the incapacity justice motion. It’s aimed explicitly at questioning the ableist valuing of bodily exertion, in addition to on the exclusionary assumptions museums make about our bodies. Shannon considers the exhibition a achievement of their long-held “entry fantasy.”
Among the many most charming items making the rounds are Emilie L. Gossiaux’s 3D-printed sculptures depicting varied physique elements of her information canine, London—together with a paw and a tongue. Additionally from Gossiaux is a journal filled with hand-drawn illustrations of the color-identification system she created for herself after going blind, by which she associates colours with recollections and emotions: a crayon that Crayola calls “purple mountains’ majesty,” for example, is renamed “homecoming costume purple 2003.” Different items on the belt are interactive: guests can elevate them off and return them at their leisure. A card recreation by Jeffrey Kasper presents prompts for 2 gamers to have interaction in workouts selling danger and intimacy. A Number of Snapshots Taken by Felix Felix Gonzalez-Torres reproduces endearing correspondences, cat images, and collectible figurines that the late artist organized lovingly on his pillows.
For some pictures within the Gonzalez-Torres guide, we see not the image, however the description he wrote on the again: like dwelling or miami panorama, 1995, summer time of affection. These picture descriptions are echoed within the audio description observe Finnegan made for the present, accommodating blind and low-vision guests. For Shannon, the entry itself is usually the art work, and objects like tissues and ear plugs (for these in search of a low-stimulus atmosphere) each flow into on the conveyor belt and seem on the present’s guidelines. As ever, Shannon takes nice care with the small print: the tissue field is in a material cozy within the form of a home, the artist having eliminated the steps that made its entrance inaccessible, and lovingly added lavender to the bushes. Right here as elsewhere, Shannon approaches entry, to cite organizer Kevin Gotkin, as “radical hospitality.”
Implied in all that is the unseen effort that disabled artists typically exert when engaged on an exhibition to make it accessible to our communities. As an alternative of retaining that work behind the scenes, Shannon compellingly makes it the topic of their debut museum solo.
Shannon is finest recognized for his or her benches and cushions that seem in group exhibitions, bearing statements like this exhibition has requested me to face for too lengthy. sit should you agree, written out within the artist’s signature script. The daring capital letters are polished off with delicate edges and a lighthearted informality that mirrors their twinned playfulness and criticality. Shannon’s work is at all times participatory: their “Anti-Stairs Membership Lounge” comprised a sequence of interventions, together with a protest on the opening of architect Thomas Heatherwick’s gargantuan Vessel in New York, a 150-foot-tall construction manufactured from interlocking staircases. Earlier than it closed, it glorified 154 flights whereas promising a premier view.
My very own most memorable encounter with a Shannon intervention was on the Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK) in Frankfurt, the place I lay again in a cushioned chaise lounge to look at a gut-wrenching Nan Goldin slideshow, by which she relates how her sister’s institutionalization—and later, suicide—altered the course of her life. I grew to become completely engulfed, and began to marvel what number of different treasures I’d passed over as a result of I hadn’t wished to face round, or squat on the ground, or sit on a tough, backless bench.
That work induced in me a longing to lounge in museums. It additionally underscored a key contribution of Shannon’s work: the artist doesn’t simply level out the absences and assumptions normalized in museums, in addition they dream up options. Relatively than institutional critique, you may name it institutional restore.
This text seems within the Winter 2023 challenge.