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"Lifelike" Shows Just How Bizarre Banality Can Be (PHOTOS)


First Posted: 03/19/2012 8:30 am Updated: 03/19/2012 11:41 am

A leisurely stroll around the internet will result in an overload of sex, gore, crazies and talented animals all in the same 5 minute video. And the strangest part is... it's all so boring! The art world is facing a similar dilemma, as artworks become more and more outrageous what we're seeing is just more and more of the same. And then a new exhibition entitled "Lifelike" stumbled upon something: If the shocking is now dull, maybe the dull will be shocking.

"Lifelike" takes ordinary objects -- a trash bag, a milk carton, or a pack of cigarettes -- and places them in an elevated art setting, giving these invisible objects a chance in the spotlight. Yet something like a milk carton, when not made in an automated factory, demands a rigorous craft to get the shape, size and color exactly right.

Some of the works strive to be indecipherable from their everyday inspirations, while others play with scale and material to impart an understated surrealism. All of the lifelike objects contain a quiet poetry, asking viewers to step outside of the endless flood of images and focus on just one. Ron Muek's sculpture "Crouching Boy in Mirror" gains a supernatural power from being "too human," while the delicate texture of Yoshihiro Suda's "Weeds" betrays its materials.

These humble works question the limits of authenticity. Can it be perfected? Manufactured like a craft? Our spectacle-centric lives capture and distort authenticity at once by putting it on view. This exhibition, in a way, does the opposite. It doesn't aim to capture authenticity -- the works are obviously replicas made by the artists -- but aims to transcend it, giving it "magical realism." Encountering these pieces gives a similar feeling to seeing a blender for the first time and swearing it must be extraordinary.

"Lifelike" will feature work from Vija Celmins, Keith Edmier, Fischli and Weiss, Robert Gober, Alex Hay, Kaz Oshiro, Charles Ray, Sam Taylor-Wood, and Ai Weiwei. It will show at Walker Art Center until May 27.

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Vija Celmins
Eraser, 1967

Acrylic on balsa wood

6 5/8 x 20 x 3 1/8 inches

Collection Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA; Gift of Avco Financial Services, Newport Beach
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