Way back when I was in New York over the holidays, I shockingly managed to drag myself to midtown and take a trip to MoMA for the first time in almost a year. I’ve seen the permanent collection about a million times, so I expected it to be a semi-redundant venture, but the specialized exhibitions ended up being absolutely spectacular. I expected the Matisse Cutouts to leave me totally spellbound – they did – but the big shocker was definitely the Robert Gober exhibit in the bottom floor contemporary gallery.
From the ‘Mature Subject Matter’ sign outside the space doors to the virtually empty front room, I was immediately put on edge. The erie imagery and super redacted gallery space created such a surreal experience, not unlike a haunted house, albeit with more subtle, psychological scares.
Visually, my favourite spaces were easily the series of wallpapered rooms. Being surrounded by such symbolically heavy imagery created such a beautifully encompassing effect, transforming the room itself into the work of art, and the viewer into an involved subject.
Gober’s choice of including a small section of thematically similar works by different artists was one that I personally really enjoyed and respected, although it did seem slightly disjointed as I was experiencing it in person. The sudden shift from such strong and consistent imagery was slightly disconcerting, but in hindsight, the decision to elevate the act of curation to an art form in itself was one that I found very intriguing and in line with my own perspective of art.
Ultimately I found the solo exhibition to be a huge success, especially seeing as Gober’s art lends itself incredibly well to being shown in a continual context. Robert Gober has never been an artist I’ve lent towards for inspiration, primarily because his I feel his pieces fail to truly inspire understanding when shown alone. As an immersive experience, however, they create a moving and thought-provoking representation of humanity.
Images from MoMA.