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A lot of us from the WPW (R)evolution show at Principle Gallery last weekend naturally ended up in the museums in Washington, D.C., a short hop on the commuter train from Alexandria where the gallery is located.
Can I just say something here? Is it possible that the same minds that brought you the U.S. tax code wrote the instructions on this ticketing machine for the Washington D.C. Metro? Furthermore, the kiosk containing an actual person who might answer your questions is located in the area after you insert your ticket into the turnstyles. I guess you could yell across the room, but somehow it seems like a design flaw - you have to select payment and pay before you can get to the spot where you can ask somebody how much you have to pay. Why, it's downright Sisyphussian in its potential frustration.
But press on in your journey, because the National Portrait Gallery is a wonderful place. I saw so many memorable pieces there.
My brilliant friend Ilaria Rosselli del Turco has written this insightful blog post about the difference between the prestigious BP Portrait Award based at the National Portrait Gallery UK (she was in the contest a few years ago) and the Outwin Boochever Portrait Award now being exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery of the United States. (Go over and read Ilaria's blog for a while. She is funny, incredibly talented, passionate and very, very smart. She had Washington D.C. all figured out while I was still looking for coffee. But she did look to the right once when stepping off the curb. How many Brits do we lose every year this way!?)
Ilaria is in front of some trash cans, pointing to the National Portrait Gallery sign. I think we were considering making some kind of performance art piece out of this but it was never fully realized.
In her blog post linked above, Ilaria includes a lot of good photos, links and much insight to the current Outwin Boochever show.
I agree with Ilaria about many things but I disagree with her on one thing - okay, maybe two things, including the number of times a person should drink cappuccino during the course of the day - but, personally, I don't like that this competition clumps paintings, photographs, videos and sculptures into one contest. This would be fine as an exhibit based on a portrait theme but I feel it is not a service to any of the artists working in the various art forms to compete directly against each other in a mass competition. The BP contest, meanwhile, is purely a painting contest and encourages the art of painting as a separate art form. In my opinion there is a lot about the technique of painting that can be examined, discussed and judged which sets it on a different platform that the technique of, say, photography, which has it's own techniques and possibilities. It's a little like having discus throwers and javelin throwers in the same Olympic event. If there's going to be prizes, let's spread out the prizes and include more artists in more categories.
I would have liked to see a portrait sculpture made out of American snack food. What could be more American than that? I've been thinking about this all evening. Fritos, crushed potato chips, Oreos, M & Ms, those pull-apart Twizzler strings for hair... . You are what you eat. By the way, did you know that the typical American's DNA is slowly being readjusted and our cells now indicate that we are genetically very similar to a Dorito?
"We're like corn chips walking because we really have a very, very large fraction of corn in our diets, and we actually can't help it because it's an additive in so many of the foods we find on the market shelves." - see the quote and full story here.
For all I know, this sort of sculpture has been done before, but I'm putting it out there in the blogosphere because I would love to see somebody do this. Maybe I'll get to this myself in my spare time.
Anyway, as Ilaria says, it's a great show - do go see it.