Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Art Show Puts Spin on Pivotal 'Decade'

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Art Show Puts Spin on Pivotal 'Decade'

Article excerpt

Artistically, decades don't often fall into tidy 10-year intervals. When we talk about '60s culture, for instance, we're really talking about the time period from the assassination of Kennedy (1963) to the resignation of Nixon (1974).

So it is with the '90s, which Alexandra Schwartz, the Montclair Art Museum's curator of contemporary art, defines as 1989-2001 -- from the year that the Berlin Wall fell through the year of 9/11 -- for the purposes of the museum's ambitious new exhibition, "Come As You Are: Art of the 1990s."

The museum calls it "the first major museum survey to examine the art of this pivotal decade in its historical context." Some 65 works by 45 artists are displayed, including installations, paintings, sculptures, drawings, photography and Internet art. The museum has also scheduled a number of related events, including an online-only panel discussion titled "What Happened to Internet Art?" and featuring Schwartz and several exhibition contributors, at 7 p.m. Wednesday; for information, visit montclairartmuseum.org.

Most museum exhibitions, of course, are devoted to material that has been displayed many times before, in many different ways. This one, which is organized around three major themes of the decade ("identity politics" debates, the digital revolution and globalization), has the benefit of opening up a whole new world to museum-goers who may not have spent a lot of time looking at and thinking about art so recent.

In the case of Sharon Lockhart's large 1996 photo print, "Untitled," the anonymity of the setting -- neat double bed, generic white lampshades, an indistinct cityscape visible through the window -- and the sense of vague uneasiness it suggests make it a quintessentially '90s image. This could be a hotel room in any city in the world; perhaps because of that, the man in it looks lost.

Glenn Kaino's "The Siege Perilous" is basically an office chair that spins in place so rapidly you could almost get dizzy watching it. It's the kind of fancy ergonomic chair you might see at an Internet start-up, and suggests the way the Internet can suck its users in, like a kind of virtual vortex. …

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