So blown away by the International Pop show at the Walker Art Center. If you can’t go, books are always better anyway? Or maybe I’m the only one who thinks that?
For me, the exhibit is proof that what I’ve long believed is “truth” is also in fact true: history is a living thing that changes all the time as our knowledge, wisdom and awareness grows. And as our egos grow quieter, our need to control a historical narrative fades and becomes the enemy… then some much more flexible idea of what was and what is starts to emerge. It is always available if we want it.
There is so much amazing work here, and when you’re in the exhibit, the inaccurate partial history of Pop Art that academia and institutions previously shaped and told doesn’t really register that much or even come to mind. I barely even thought of it while I was there. It is a GORGEOUS show. And by the time I got to the Hockney piece near the end, my vibe was way more sensual then semantic (thx JT.)
The book is inseparable from the show but becomes its deep breaths. Designed by our friend Andrea Hyde it’s a beautiful tribute that becomes a platform for this set of ideas to begin teaching again about what really happened… and what is really happening around these ideas, these works, these artists, the collections they emerged from, the past–which is only real in the present–and the life it will all live tomorrow.
Here’s a nice interview about the book with Andrea by Madeline Weisburg.
In the interview they discuss the “objectness” of the book and at one point Andrea says “As I mentioned before, in response to your question about the “objectness” of the book, International Pop needed to feel like an artifact, and the permanence of the book as an object helps the ideas within it feel permanent as well.”
Her using the word permanence made me think about one aspect of the exhibit’s mission: retelling this history in an open and more expansive way. And then I wished that, within the exhibit, there was a list of every single work the curators Darsie Alexander and Bartholomew Ryan had considered including in the show that didn’t make the final cut. Because the nature of a show, a book, and the inherent permanence involved seem to start the whole process of misunderstanding how history works again.
I would’ve loved seeing an attempt to set the history, the works and the ideas free rather than placing them in a new container. I felt so much joy looking through the Walker’s site at this exhibit and continually coming across a notice that said “This event has passed.”
I mean, every new sentence changes the context of the preceding one right? And what would anything be without everything else?
Truly one of the best shows and catalogs I’ve ever seen.
So huge congrats to Andrea Hyde and all involved on a truly epic living exhibit.
Please enjoy the time and space.