Exhibition Paper #1 Madison Dye

Viviane Le Courtois: Edible at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

April 16, 2012

Exhibition Paper #1

ARTH 3509

April 16, 2012

 

 

Viviane Le Courtois: Edible

Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

 

Viviane Le Courtois is a contemporary artist with a talent for dabbling among many different mediums, while staying true to her one of her main objectives: connecting art with everyday life.  Le Courtois explores the notion of combining art and day-to-day objects by turning simple objects into art.

Le Courtois was born in France in 1969.In 1994 she moved to Denver, where she is a curator, teaches, and continues making art. She has travelled extensively, which she documents through her walking shoes, and has exhibited as part of a collection, and in solo exhibitions in museums around the world.

In Le Curtois’s personal artist statement, she states that she is constantly obsessing about trying to “accumulate and transform conceptually interesting, useless but precious objects.” These designated “useless but precious objects” range from old socks and shoes, to junk mail to dryer lint, and also to a vast collection of jarred and pickled items, a prominent section of her current exhibit currently at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. Her current exhibition, Edible features interactive installations, etchings and sculptures, all of which focus on the preparation, the storing, the consuming and the offering of food.

Upon entering the BMoCA, the first element of this exhibit the visitor encounters is also probably one of the most interesting components of the entire exhibition: the interactive installation Garden of Earthly Delights. Set up on the floor in a loosely organized fashion lie portable garden boxes, with a variety of different herbs actually growing and thriving in the museum, among them are thyme, rosemary, verbena and sage. Dispersed among the growing herbs, also laying directly on the ground, are circular woven rugs, where visitors are encouraged to sit down, contemplate, and converse, which is why this installation can be termed “interactive.” Another aspect of this piece that allows it to carry the title is that the artist herself has set aside time every Saturday for a few hours to come tend to the plants, serve tea, and converse with the visitors that are enjoying her installation. I was intrigued when I first learned that Le Courtois herself would be arriving to garden, but I realized that her physically participating on a weekly basis, and tending to the plants she put there, and serving tea with the herbs that she grew, are all very important aspects of the piece itself.

The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art is a small museum with only two rooms. The relatively tiny amount of floor space makes in this building actually enhances the exhibition and makes for a more intimate and personal experience. Once the viewer has enjoyed The Garden of Earthly Delights, they enter the second room of the exhibition. Although there is a multitude of varying mediums in this room, the theme of food is still pervasive and prevalent throughout. Hanging on the right on the sidewall are four woven baskets or possibly plates. Flanking the plates are three shallow baskets full of grain, increasing incrementally in diameter from top to bottom, that are hanging one on top of another, three on each side. Around the corner there is a large statue of a plump man that at first glance seems to be entirely constructed of marshmallows, although upon closer inspection it is clear the marshmallows are just the outermost layer. Across from the jolly marshmallow man are the infamous multiple shelves of random sundry items pickled and jarred keeping consistent with her interesting in collecting every day objects and making them art. All of these pieces are different, yet all interesting and beautiful in their own way. My favorite installation of this entire exhibition however is across the room from the marshmallow man. This giant dangling piece titled Cheetovore, completed in 2002, immediately caught my attention upon seeing it. This piece is looks like a giant dangling cocoon, covered in bright orange Cheetos. The Cheetos are initially what caught my attention, but the most intriguing part of this piece is the faint munching sound, audible only in close proximity to the Cheetos cocoon. Inside the cocoon is a speaker playing a recording of what I assume a caterpillar sounds like as he chomps his way through his hanging nursery. Since the speaker is actually inside the installation, it is almost hard not to immediately picture a gigantic caterpillar inside slowly eating his way out. I liked this particular piece because the interesting aspects of it only become evident as you approach. From far away, it still looks like a giant orange cocoon, but as you get closer, first the fact that the shell of it is entirely covered in cheetos becomes clear, and once you are in even closer, you can hear the recording, which makes this piece all the more interesting.

My personal and almost immediate reaction to this exhibit was a very positive one. I have never experienced an “interactive installation” before. The participating factor combined with the possibility of seeing encountering the artist herself made this exhibit enjoyable, very interesting, and almost exciting. I really liked the concept of having live herbs growing inside the museum, and drinking tea alongside them. I also really like that the theme of this exhibition is preparing and consuming food. Both my mother and grandmother are chefs and as a result, preparing food and eating together with family are some of my oldest and favorite memories. Due to the fact that I will probably always equate food with memories of my family, and especially my mother, I personally found Le Courtois’ exhibition to be very comforting and pleasant. Although methods differ, the preparation and consuming of food is something that is worldwide and timeless. Regardless of time or place, food is an absolute necessity for every person, which is another reason why this exhibition is so universally inclusive. Almost every person in the world can relate to food in some way or another, making this show relatable to almost everybody. Although food may mean different things based on culture or time period, since every human must eat, this exhibition can be appreciated by almost everybody in their own ways, which makes it so successful, in my opinion. Le Coutrois concludes her personal artist statement with a quote that has greatly impacted the way I personally view and relate to art. She confidentially asserts that for her, “if people remember what they see, it is art.” This is a powerful statement that made me think back on the artwork that I have seen compared to the art work I actually can remember. The pieces that had some personal significant impact on me, whether emotionally or just visually, are the pieces that I can recall and I know that I will not forget seeing Viviane Le Coutrois’ Edible at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art for just that reason.

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