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Shine A Light Tonight

don’t miss artists’ interventions at Portland Art Museum

By Lisa Radon September 18, 2009

Shine A Light: A Night at the Museum. Portland Art Museum.

Oh, what a night! Chris Doulgeris of Hooliganship and Honey Owens of Valet serenading art, Harrell Fletcher winkingly printing out and tacking up your cell phone snappies up on the wall, Cyrus Smith making video art with the museum’s security cameras, breakdancing, orienteering, plus E*Rock in the Sculpture Garden!?! I absolutely would not miss Shine a Light: A Night At The Museum at the Portland Art Museum tonight, September 19 from 6 PM to 12 AM.

Graduate students in Portland State University’s Art and Social Practice Program with the NW Film Center have created more than a dozen projects and interventions in response to the work in the Museum as well as to the institution itself. Some promise to be thought-provoking, some just good fun.

I love that Zach Springer has enlisted the help of Kansas City-based Print Factory to print fifty counterfeit tickets at the beginning of the event (that will be accepted as valid for the night!) drawing attention to ticket price as barrier for many, preventing engagement with the city’s Museum.

And while I think Fletcher’s project is a toss-off (what am I, The Woman With the Veil?), I like that Jason Zimmerman’s Portland Silver which will silver plate objects visitors bring to the museum and display them with the Museum’s silver collection raises interesting questions about what belongs in a museum and how objects get there. Who decides and how do those decisions get made?

I worry that some of the best, most thoughtful responses/interventions will be less noticeable. I love that Katy Asher and Helen Reed have worked with Doris Ennis, a woman who has volunteered at the museum for 35 years, mostly cataloging the permanent collection. Asher and Reed have created a Doris Ennis Collection tour with two sets of works selected by Ennis that will each be marked with a small plaque.

I also worry I won’t be able to get to it all. Constance Hockaday’s lecture and workshop, an incomplete history of pigments, is planned for 90 min. run time.

Be sure to pick up the program for the night so that you’ll not only be made aware of the many things happening throughout the museum (would you know that the oversized ikebana is Eric Steen’s project?), but also learn a little more about them. Or why wait? Here’s a pdf of the program/schedule.

This event could only be possible since Brian Ferriso became director of the Portland Art Museum and perhaps more importantly, since Christina Olsen became Director of Education and Public Programs.

I believe it’s so important to issue the invitation. And by this I mean two things. Let’s issue the invitation in as many ways as we can imagine to those who haven’t been to the Museum in some time or have never been at all. And secondly, let’s continue to invite new ways to look at, to consider, and to respond to the work in the Museum. (Olsen’s Artist Talks, part roving lecture, part salon, are another great example of this.) A project like Shine A Light has the potential to do both in spades.

In Jen Delos Reyes essay in the catalog for Shine A Light, she says she herself imagined doing a project somewhere between Francis Alys’ Sometimes Doing Somethign Poetic Can Become Political And Sometimes Doing Something Political Can Become Poetic (2007) for which he carried a paint can with a hole in the bottom and Liam Gillick’s Dispersed Discussion Structure (2006) in which glitter and whiskey were painted on a gallery floor such that it would be tracked throughout the rest of the art center. She wanted to carry a bucket of glitter with a hole in the bottom through the Museum and leave behind a sparkling trail knowing that the glitter would disperse, even following participants into their cars and to their homes.

Reyes’ idea is a perfect metaphor for thoroughness, awareness, magic, and afterglow we can hope for from Shine A Light. See you there.

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