Fabulous review Gabe! Too bad I missed it.
Let's face it, as pop stars go, Madge was the one that pushed the envelope the most in terms of creativity, reinvention, and subversion, and back then we loved her for it and reveled in the spectacle. When you look at a video like "Lucky Star" now, it seems so incredibly ahead of its time. The stark white backdrop with Madge writhing around, it's aesthetic genius. Madonna was smart enough to never take her audience for granted. She spent the majority of her career asserting her sexuality. She was the first white female pop star to full on kiss a black guy in a music video, and don't forget the highly sexually subversive imagery for the "Justify My Love" video, which was banned from MTV, Madonna never held any punches, which is the reason why she earned so much respect. Now, I don't think she needs to assert her sexuality anymore, we watched her do that for almost two decades, and that has nothing to do with her age. I suppose we wonder, doesn't she have anything else to talk about? For a woman with so many incredible experiences and such a long career, we would hope she would be able to create music with much more substance. I think she achieved that exquisitely on "Ray of Light". Madonna was usually at the forefront, wether it was bringing the underground cult of "Voguing" to mainstream America, or chartering new musical territory by collaborating with William Orbit, one could always rely on Madonna to make a bold, new artistic statement. Sadly, however, the music industry doesn't demand musical creativity as Madonna knows it, and so unfortunately, she delivers what the music industry demands..vapid, mindless, canned. So, perhaps it's not entirely all Madonna's fault, but we hoped she would be the rebel once more and go against the mainstream,delivering something completely different and unexpected. Instead, she gives in and delivers post-mid life crisis revenge and sexual frustration set to programmed beats and blips.
Although I have not seen this exhibition, it is obvious that the show is a testament to the enormous struggle museums, like the Ringling, are facing today. I think they are beginning to realize that they simply cannot exist in a vacuum, laboring in erroneous research of the artwork, and catering mostly to the established few that support and patronize the institutuon. The world just isn't that kind of a place anymore. I admit that the Ringling is a lovely museum, with an impressive collection, but it does suffer from an image crisis. The installation of the permanent collection is annoyingly academic, and the galleries as a whole are aesthetically formidable. However, with that said, I sincerely hope this exhibition is a success, as it may prove to the administration of the institution that the real intention of art, especially contemporary art, is to affect everyone, not just a select few, and to initiate a dialogue from the viewer, regardless whether they like it or not, it's subjectivity in its rawest form. Thus, I agree wholeheartedly with Ms. Voeller's positive sentiment that the museum's attempt to find relevance can only be a good thing, and for that, I give them a big "shout out"!
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