Look Again: 'The Double: Identity and Difference in Art Since 1900' at the National Gallery of Art

Look Again: ‘The Double: Identity and Difference in Art Since 1900’ at the National Gallery of Art

Usually but in particular relevant now, in mild of the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the women’s revolution in Iran, Mary Kelly’s electronic movie projection WLM Remix (2005) slowly and gradually merges two moments in time: a photograph of a 1970 women’s liberation march and an picture of its reenactment, arranged by the artist with her college students far more than three a long time afterwards. Even though historical past is performatively reenacted in Kelly’s film to sign feminism’s ongoing urgency, the length of the past and the need to get well it again and yet again is keenly felt somewhere else in the exhibition. Operating from a single photograph taken when he was a child, Arshile Gorky began painting two portraits of himself and his mother about 1926. The artist’s mother, a sufferer of the Armenian genocide, died from starvation in his arms years prior, and seems more ghostly in the portrait the artist continued to operate on as late as 1942 (he stopped portray the other close to 1936). In 2016, Zoe Leonard reproduced her late mother’s likeness from an outdated photograph as well, only she instantaneously photographed alternatively than gradually painted the original snapshot 2 times.

Perhaps no artist has mined appreciate and grief a lot more poignantly than Felix Gonzalez-Torres, most effective known for his heartbreaking installations prompted by the reduction of his partner, Ross Laycock, to AIDS, which also killed Gonzalez-Torres a long time afterwards. Curator James Meyer ingeniously paired one of these installations, “Untitled” (Fans – Paris) (1993), with yet another designed by Roni Horn, titled Gold Mats, Paired—For Ross and Felix (1994/1995). Horn had originally developed the do the job as a solitary gold sheet which she then reproduced just after Laycock’s death as a gesture for his grieving associate, who had admired the work’s authentic iteration. The mild emanating from Gonzalez-Torres’ installation, which consists of two strings of illuminated bulbs hung from the ceiling, is mirrored in Horn’s two crinkled sheets, one particular laid on leading of the other on the flooring. In each individual operate, materials factors that are alike in structure also radiate vitalities that are both equally person and synced. Together, the two installations serve as a double-layered meditation on queer twoness.

The works by Gonzalez-Torres and Horn, the two Gorky portraits, and the Rauschenberg paintings all belong to distinct museum collections, so their reunion alone can make The Double experience like an crucial and scarce instant in museum curation. The likely effects of the demonstrate are much additional important and infinitely elaborate, implicating our wishes and fears as persons navigating a entire world that we are inclined to outline in phrases of likeness and variance. But sharp curation would make these difficulties approachable for the open up and client viewer. The proposition is very simple: Glimpse, then glimpse once more.


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