Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Balloon Dogs and Astronauts

Show a lot of art with mirrored surfaces, and you're just asking for people to photograph their own reflections. I was scolded for taking this one of me and my friend Linda becoming one with Jeff Koon's "Easyfun...Sheep." The show, "Everything's Here: Jeff Koons and his experience of Chicago" runs through October. It's smallish, but augmented on the fourth floor by an exhibit of Chicago artists who have influenced Koons. I left feeling a little giddy, which is exactly how a 10 foot-high stainless steel balloon dog should make you feel. Huge photos of Koons and his ex-wife, porn star Ilona Staller (or, perhaps more accurately, their body parts), are installed in a concealed area in one of the main rooms. If you have any qualms about viewing a billboard-sized pornographic image, avoid this section.

A recent New Yorker had a good article about the show, and Koon's controversial life and career:
Funhouse: A Jeff Koon's Retrospective. [Link]

The MCA gift store is my personal crackhouse; I rarely get out of there without dropping at least $50 on a book and/or some arty thingamabob. This time, it was a tiny stuffed kitten toy by Marie Maison de Mieux [Link], and a book of Japanese pictograms/icons. I haven't done graphic design in years, but I still appreciate a good icon or symbol. I loved the disco ball and the astronaut, combined below.

Some of the icons depict typical Japanese situations or anxieties. The tiny, perspiring man was in a section titled "Trouble." He hangs his head in abject shame as he's being berated, probably by his boss, something you'll not see in western clip art. And then there's the subway groper. In Chicago, we would need an additional pictogram of him getting a beatdown.

Then, there's the "huh?" pictograms. This one was in a section called "Bussiness"(sic). To me, it looks like someone tossing a baby out of a building. At least I think that's an arm, although other interpretations are understandable. I'll post more in the future.

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