According to the Swiss Institute NYC, their latest exhibition, FADE IN: INT. ART GALLERY - DAY, "features the work of 25 artists and considers a history of art as seen in classic movies, soap operas, science fiction, pornography and musicals," thus exploring the role that art plays in narrative film and television. 

Inside their Downtown Manhattan gallery space, the works are installed as if on a soundstage. Mike Cooter takes a largely photographical route, playing with black-and-white silver gelatin prints centered around film noir imagery and the MacGuffins strategically placed within classic American films such as Hitchcock's Maltese Falcon; a ceramic sculpture from Cat People (1942) remade by Cooter for a previous work completes his mise en scene.

Otherwise, the seemingly discordant selection finds its harmony around the placement of Rodrigo Matheus' Scene Game (2016) installation. Set behind gauzy, variety-store curtains - the sort favoured by on-screen homemakers attempting to jazz up an otherwise pedestrian suburban space - Matheus' collection of everyday objects bring to mind the totems that often 'make a frame' in film.


Cindy Sherman Swiss Institute Cindy Sherman, The Evil Twin 2016 (right).


Indeed, whilst walking through the exhibit to snap these images, a slew of questions came to mind. How much of what one considers to be good art is informed by objects selected for appearance across media and entertainment, and thus validated as worthy of our consumption by its recorded and transmitted presence?

And by extension, do we then decide what is art, who an artist is, and what their output should look like, based in part or in whole on what we see? 

Cindy Sherman's sourcing of a portrait of Hurd Hatfield, painted by Henrique Medina for a 1945 film adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Grey, rests alongside her veiled doppleganger covered in a thick, black cloth (above, inset); the Evil Twin commission represents the protagonist's hidden, wicked side and stands in line with Sherman's career-long examination of cinematic representation.

The inclusion of Medina's portrait against Sherman's draped piece also comments on the reinforcement of 'high art' through film, from the dress of the character to the bourgeoisie pose and taught smile and even the gilded frame, which has been seen a thousand times over for centuries within the Western world's fine art galleries. Perhaps to the masses - and even to those who should know better - art works are worthy of reverence and posterity when presented like Medina's? And a further thought: how does one guard against such impositions of taste?

FADE IN: INT. ART GALLERY - DAY is on show at the Swiss Institute through May 19th 2016. 












Mike Cooter, MacGuffin: some archetypes towards a definition, 2016. Silver gelatin prints, vinyl, clay, valchromat.
Carissa Rodriguez, La Collectioneuse, 2016. Glazed ceramics, razorblades.
Henrique Medina, Portrait of Hurd Hatfield as Dorian Gray, 1945. Oil on canvas. Right: Cindy Sherman, The Evil Twin, 2016. Hidden painting, black velvet.
Danai Anesiadou, Vesica Piscis: Down with all States. Down with all Churches. Long live this Painter, 2016. Mixed media
Carissa Rodriguez, La Collectioneuse, 2016. Glazed ceramics, razorblades.
Rodrigo Matheus, Scene Game, 2016. Curtains, carpet, faux marble painting and props
[Images 2 & 8 courtesy the Swiss Institute]
Special Thanks to the Swiss Institute
NB Images & Words by Lisa-Marie Harris
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