AMOA’s New Art in Austin by (…mbg editor) Claire Ruud and an
interview with executive director Dana Friis-Hansen by Kate Green.
Review of New Art in Austin raises some really good points about
one of my main problems with the show: the installation. I completely
agree with Ruud’s singling out of the very distracting and
counter-productive pairing of Jill Pangallo’s Note To Self and Buster Graybill’s Come Along Johnny.
Leaving the weird male vs. female dichotomy this unfortunate
pairing creates behind (as Ruud points out), I find that both pieces suffer from being so
cramped together. It’s really quite hard to appreciate the monumental scale of Graybill’s sculpture or the intimate scope of Pangallo’s
installation. And that’s without mentioning the other artist in the
unfortunate little room: Sarah Sudhoff, whose photographs barely
register because of the cramped quarters.
Then there’s the other two artists whose work is really hurt by
placement: Baseera Khan and Kurt Mueller. Both artist’s work is placed
next to the entrance where it’s almost impossible to notice them.
Especially in Mueller’s case, his MLK karaoke American Dream just looks like misplaced A/V equipment shoved in a corner.
It will be very interesting to see how the show looks in the other
venues it will be presented in. I hope …might be good reviews the
show a second time, with the same focus as the current review that
(rightfully) fixates on installation problems and institutional
And speaking of institutional critique, I’m a little weirded out by
some of Friis-Hansen’s comments in this week’s …might be good,
especially when he is quoted calling New Art in Austin a “cheap feel-good show,”
and when he mentions that his philosophy about AMOA is "to lower the threshold
for coming to see shows as low as possible so
that people can literally walk in off the street and feel welcome."
AMOA often feels like it has a low threshold, but I’m
unsure whether this really is the best way to attract the
"’creative class’—those involved in industries such as gaming,
graphics, film or software" that Friis-Hansen wants to "tap." Calling a
screening of short video documentaries a "film screening" will alienate
people who know what film actually means and having a website that
feels like it was made at the turn of the last century will alienate
the graphics/software people, even if it was made on an open source
platform developed by SFMOMA.