“Gardner Museum Revisited” by Kota Ezawa
January 9 – March 12, 2016
During the night of March1990, thieves, dressed as Boston Police, stole $500 million worth of art hung at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. In August 2015, the FBI released the video recording of the surveillance videotape of the museum the night before.
With the help of that video Kota Ezawa has been able to re-create the installation of the stolen paintings at the museum, the night before the steel.
The light boxes are reconstructed in the original size of the thirteen stolen works, and include paintings and sketches by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Manet and Degas. In addition, a light box depicting the now empty museum wall represents the quiet absence of these works.
While Ezawa’s prior drawings relied exclusively on photographs as source material, this series draws upon painting, with the understanding that painters like Vermeer and Rembrandt were essentially the photographers of their time. Ezawa continues to distill these iconic images to their most essential form, and by doing so his work communicates the symbolic power these images have on the collective psyche and underscores a keen understanding of how images shape our experience and memory of events.
In parallel of that ghost installation Ezawa presents an excellent video looped of a woman in flesh sat in front of a drawn-fake man slapping each other quite vigorously (image above). That real woman is Marina Abramovic known as “the grandmother of performance art” and that man is the symbolic representation of her ex-partner in life, Uwe Laysiepen, a German artist who performed under the name Ulay.
The couple has been inspirational to Ezawa who hijacked their sado/maso relationship to extend it through the idea of what sort of compassion the viewer can have toward those people on the screen. Although there is only one human being, Marina, her hand is slapping vigorously the drawing of her partner, and fake ulay is also slapping her vigorously. If at first, it makes laugh, with time, the slap hurts on both sides n the compassion grows… for both parties!
Very weird and disturbing feeling actually. A must be see exhibition, for sure.