Friday, May 13, 2011

The Eye of the B'Holder

It is said that art is in the eye of the beholder.  But if you’re not careful, this particular piece of art could just be in your eye. I’m referring to “Squeeze Me” by Veronica Abrenica  (OCADU); a tactile installation on display in the main hallway of CNIB’s National headquarters in Toronto. It was part of the tactile tour held last night (May 12 2011) as part of their Art in The Dark feature of the Toronto Vision Gala. It might be the biggest accessible art fail I have ever seen.   

I’m not one to judge any art or artist.  As an artist, I realize art doesn’t have to be pretty. It can be pretty damn ugly, weird and conceptual: that’s cool.  But guys, WTF were you thinking?

Like all not-for-profits they are desperate for cash, and are looking for unique ways to fundraise. But their marketing people are woefully deficient in their knowledge of the needs, views and capabilities of the client base they portend to serve.

Over the last couple of years I have tried to be charitable and restrained, supportive even, with my criticisms at some of their shenanigans. Above all, I have tried to keep a professional attitude at all times. 

But this is too much!

Plastered on the wall in the main hallway across from the conference center are blobs of fleshy coloured substance (I have only seen the photo, so I can’t speak to texture). There are fleshy red bulbous protrusions sticking out of these patches.  Apparently these are filled with a custard-like substance. On the wall between patches are “Do not touch” signs.

Curious that.

So, what is all this supposed to represent?

Art instalation at CNIB

Nipples?  Bubonic plague? Harpies? Melanoma?

WRONG! It’s acne.  Yup.  Big festering, liquid filled oversized, squeezable zits. And apparently they are starting to smell!

This thing is disgusting. It reminds me of the fake vomit we used to make in grade school. Sure zits are tactile, but who wants to feel them?  I’d rather see breasts, or cactuses up there. Hell, here’s one, bubble wrap with different scents inside each bubble that is released when you pop them.  They don’t even all have to be nice smells.

The tour took place before the gala fundraiser dinner.  Yum yum. I’ll bet that stimulated the appetites of those business and community leaders!

I was flummoxed when I first saw this piece.  I was even more flummoxed and flabbergasted when I discovered what it actually was, and why it was there.

I thought it might contain some witty Braille message, or possibly be a grotesque representation of Braille or something equally esoteric.  Yes, it’s tactile, and therefore accessible; but really. How is something so repulsive and puerile supposed to inspire the generation of funds?  All I could think is, WTF?

Here's what was written next to the installation art. At least it was in large print and Braille.

Veronica Abrenica
Artist - OCADU
Title: Squeeze Me

"Squeeze me!" is a piece that comments on one type of obsessive, compulsive behaviour that many individuals, mainly teenagers, have. I see pimples as a part of something natural that does occur to every individual and it is a part of growing up but society tells you otherwise as there are so many products that try to get rid of these 'imperfections' on one's body. My piece forces the individual to face this wall of pimples and either provoke the need to get 'rid' of these 'imperfections' or disregard them entirely.

Here is a link to the event that was info.