Okay, so we appreciate the art gallery’s making this a special exhibition and all… but they really were stingy with the art this time around! There is simply not enough Warhol…the only way that you may extend your viewing pleasure would be by seeing it again.. and again … and again… and again… kind of like the frame images…
David Cronenberg answers:
I went to see the original show at the Walker Museum. That museum has incredible space; huge ceilings, it’s a newer building, fantastic space and there was a lot of space around the paintings which was very impressive. It gave it an airiness.
When I realized what the space was here…we don’t have that space. We don’t have those ceilings. Some paintings we could not fit on certain walls because they were too big. So rather than thinking of that as a flaw, I thought it was an opportunity to do something quite different from what the Walker did. We couldn’t have replicated that show if we wanted to, we just didn’t have the space. Simple as that. And the same for the Chicago show, which apparently had even more space. Once the renovations are done at the AGO maybe that will be an option, but it wasn’t here.
One of the things I noticed as a result of that space around the paintings was that I thought it was actually too much space. You could make an argument that it let you off the hook; it let you breathe too much. I think the show is incredibly intense and dense and I decided I did not want people to breathe that much. I wanted them to feel the intensity and density of what Andy’s work was doing at the time. So it is a matter of the art of the possible, which is very much like movie-making in that you don’t have carte blanche. There are always limitations. Here you have to deal with fire regulations and the flow of the public and security and so on.
So it is a combination of a conceptual idea and pragmatics. Also, we put movies on the wall where the other shows did not and that meant even less space to work with around the paintings. But I think if you took the movies away you are cutting the show in half. There is so much that is delivered by the movies that the paintings do not. They reflect on each other.
I’ve watched all the amazing 10,000 submissions to In Your Face roll in and learned a lot. How keen people are to express their creativity. How important it is for the AGO to support the creativity of all, not just what turns out to be mostly dead white males. I was excited to read in Monday’s Star about a new report entitled Imagine a Toronto…Strategies for a Creative City commissioned by the Premier of Ontario and the Mayor of Toronto. I want to get my hands on the report ASAP. I hope you do too. Let me know what you think of it.
Do you approach putting an art show together the same way as a film? And do you take into account the way Warhol put his art exhibits together when you did this show?
David Cronenberg answers:
Andy, being the sort of anti-conservative, anti-establishment guy that he was, usually just said show it any way you want. So in a way I have listened to Andy in that we did it any way we wanted. He was a voyeur, even of himself and his own stuff and he would say "I am interested in what you do. So just do it". He wasn’t like most artists that way. For example, he doesn’t sign any of his paintings. You won’t see an Andy Warhol signature and that is very unusual. That had to do with the essence of pop art, which was to subvert the classic notion of art as a unique, hand-made object that was precious. He wanted to modify it and make it a mass-produced product, easily accessible to everyone. Like a tin of tuna, that might be poisonous.
On the other hand, it was interesting to me to know that Andy was the ultimate mult-tasker. People who knew him often said he was doing twenty things at once and in his factory he would have the movies being projected on the walls, while also shooting a movie in another area and producing silkscreens in another area. So the idea of projecting his movies on the walls is almost like music. They are not movies you are necessarily meant to sit and watch for eight hours, reverently. That would not be Andy. The idea is that they should be on the wall behind you, while you are working, like music. Something you sometimes focus on and have your favourite moments and then you turn out and turn back in. That is what, I think, he had in mind.
There are hardcore Warhol film fanatics who would totally disagree with me. But most people would not sit there and watch more than eight hours of the empire state building. But it is fantastic to be in the room when it changes and that happened when we were doing the installation. We had all the films playing on the wall first, and put the paintings up later and we were constantly looking up and seeing moments in the films and be taken aback and surprised. Especially when they were directly connected to the paintings we selected.
I have heard from people that knew him well that he would have loved the show, in particular that everyone is walking around with this thing stuck to their ear, listening to the audio guide because it is kind of strange to see.
Do you like to make art? I’ve been wandering again through the 10,000 portraits in In your Face. I could never have imagined the diversity of media that can be used to make a 4x 6" portrait – tin-foil, human hair, plasticene, fabric, wood, papier mache, rug-hooking, crayon, magic marker, photography, collage, computer and of course the more traditional media of watercolour, oil, acrylic, pencil, pastel, print media of several sorts, or sometimes even a combination of several of these. If you make art I’d love to know what media you like to use and why. What does your medium of choice help you achieve?
"How many times do you wind up with the recording of the audio guide to an art exhibit? This could be the start of something big." — Martin Knelman, Toronto Star
Preview the soundtrack by downloading this podcast. Conceived and narrated by renowned filmmaker David Cronenberg to accompany the exhibition Andy Warhol/Supernova:Stars Death and Disasters, 1962-1964. Commentary by David Cronenberg, Mary-Lou Green, Dennis Hopper, David Moos, James Rosenquist and Amy Taubin.
Image: A community participant from the Hydro Block on Henry Street poses next to his picture with the flag he created
Hello Everyone! This is artist Day Milman with my first post for the ArtsAccess Blog, updating you on what the team has been up to over the past couple of months. Mostly, I’m really pleased to report that the Transformation City hoarding project has just been installed in Grange Park.
Since April, I’ve been working hard with my fellow community artist/facilitators—Cath Campbell and Camille Turner as well as Jef McLarnon, Jake Pyne and Loree Erickson—together with groups from the Grange Neighborhood to produce the projects that now appear on the hoarding.
Jef worked with Orde Street Public School to make an amazing, huge dragon puppet ingeniously driven by a shopping cart. Loree and Jake worked with Beverly Junior Public School to produce a series of self-portraits by participants who have disabilities, giving the participants the opportunity to show how they see themselves. They also used flowers to paint with, and a few participants even used the tracks of their wheelchairs to produce a beautiful border along their piece.
Cath led a story-telling workshop with St. George the Martyr Anglican Church in which participants shared stories about the Church and the neighbourhood. Excerpts from the stories, along with pictures of the Church’s gorgeous stained glass windows, now appear on the hoarding. Camille led a Grade 2 class at Ogden Junior Public School in making secret wish pouches from fabric and glass beads. I worked with the Cops ‘n’ Kids from Hydro Block on Henry Street to produce flags that represent the kids’ ideas about themselves and their community.
Art in the Park on July 1 was when the hoarding project was officially launched. Cath’s band, the Jeremiahs, led the Hydro Block Kids and the Shopping Cart Dragon in a parade through the park. It was so great to finish the project off with a celebratory parade!
Image: The completed ‘Transformation City 2006’ hoarding project gets installed.
Image: Visitors to ‘Art in the Park’ help to finish the hoarding project by adding a flower to the Community Wish Garden.
At Art in the Park there were lots of exciting art projects for kids and families to participate in. The ArtsAccess crew was in charge of the Community Wish Garden. People made flowers out of brightly coloured vinyl and stuck them to the hoarding. Each flower represents a wish.
So, please take a trip down to Grange Park, check out the hoarding project and enjoy tossing the Frisbee, wading in the pool, or just relaxing under a shady tree.
In Your Face officially opened on Saturday. What a day! What a buzz! We were overwhelmed by the number of visitors to the installation – all keen to check out the amazing portraits on view. Many visitors – professionals and amateurs alike – had come specifically to see their own work. One man spent over an hour looking at every single image (twice I think), trying to locate a portrait of himself by a friend. The ‘In Your Face’ gallery is definitely a place you want to linger in. I chatted with many contributors. They were so excited to see the results of their labour on our walls and to be part of such a diverse community of over 10,000 creative individuals. And as one visitor so aptly put it: what a perfect way to celebrate Canada Day!
On behalf of the AGO, congratulations to all our talented participants. Long live the art of making art.
In conjunction with the AGO’s new exhibition Andy Warhol/Supernova: Stars, Deaths and Disasters 1962-1964, guest curated exclusively for the AGO by David Cronenberg, the acclaimed film director will be taking questions from some members of the local blogging community. The AGO would like to know what would you like to ask David Cronenberg. Submit your question to the comments section below and several of the selected questions will be answered. We will post some of the answers in the coming weeks.