La Jolla, CA
Untilted, Maurizio Cattelan
Perception is reality in the eye of the perceiver.
There’s been a buzz and excitement for Lifelike. How could it go unnoticed if not for the giant milk carton looming over what once were the Robert Irwin windows? I wish they hadn’t removed them. After a rather harrowing (and quite frankly painful) week, MCASD in La Jolla promised pretty things to stare at, artistic complexities for me to either marvel or loathe, and free entertainment. Anything but the bizarre and surreal string of events that seem to weave in an out of my reality. For someone who needed a slice of something real, this exhibit was anything but.
Hefty 2-Ply, Jud Nelson
“Don’t overlook the trash bag.” – MCASD front desk
I did not overlook the trash bag that appeared to be trash bag but felt rather tricked, fooled for mistaking this marble lump to be something so familiar and ordinary. In fact, the pieces of Lifelike were so deceivingly real that what was surely cardboard was not cardboard at all, but metal, lead and paint, and trust me when I say you don’t want to eat those sunflower seeds. And then I was angry. Why reconstruct and recreate that which already exists? Why disturb simplicity with complexity? Why me?
Kui Hua Zi (Sunflower Seeds), Ai Weiwei
still.life., Ugo Rondinone
Subway Metro, Leandro Erlich
Then there was the film of passengers in a subway behind a real dividing door. For a brief moment, I was riding the 6 train again with Christian and Dedrick, literally lost in the depths of Manhattan and absolutely loving it. But an uncomfortable shift in my gut reminded me that this is San Diego, and this eerily lifelike piece was foreign to my beach town reality, as was the painter’s hall that would never see painters. And I almost loathed the South African who looked so real, I wondered how I could have distinguished life from silicone. If not for the unsettling and strange distortion of his side profile, what indicator do I have for what’s real? The truth?
(Old) No One-in Particular #6, Series 2, Evan Penny
I feel woozy looking at this.
Then there were other realities that force recognition, such as scenes from urban streets that might have been overlooked – should I have overlooked them? Should I have paid more attention? The 3:44 minute film documenting rotting fruit ignored aversions to the ugly truth. Nobody wants to acknowledge the deterioration of something they believe to be good, wholesome, pure.
Still Life, Sam Taylor-Wood
Or maybe it’s just you who needs to look beyond the grandeur and observe the details. The man painting the White House on a $20 bill was there all along, but I just didn’t notice until he bent over to adjust his jean cuffs.
I can’t decide if Lifelike is brilliant as indicated by the pit in my stomach, or if it’s merely the context in which I viewed it. One thing is for sure: there is nothing “lifelike” about Lifelike and its warped perception of reality. It took an Old Fashioned and several pounds of a Korean BBQ date to sooth the nerves it frazzled.