At Galerie Christian Nagel in Berlin, Belgian artist Ives Maes presents photographic “sculptures” that portray the current condition of structures left from past world’s fair sites in large, oblong frames. Once symbols for beauty and utopia, they have now taken divergent paths: some continue as platforms for new ideas whereas others are now derelict homes to the dregs of society. While this may be an interesting subject for an expose in National Geographic, can the theme sustain itself as a cohesive exhibition?
A Kodak Moment
It’s amazing how many great pieces of architecture have been erected for world’s fairs and expos in the past: the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Atomium in Brussels and the Space Needle in Seattle just to name a few. Whenever one of my Facebook friends travels abroad, they’re likely to upload a photograph of themselves in front of one of these titanic constructions. This is fitting, as the engineers who constructed these giants specifically wanted to create sites that people would visit religiously for years to come. Unfortunately of the dozens of structures produced for world’s fairs and expos, many have gone the way of the Dodo.
The first photographs that Maes presents at his solo exhibition “STAY TIME EXTENDED” are simply documentations of some of those spaces. One, like a neatly framed image of hippies performing in front of the St. Louis Museum of Art doesn’t really do anything for me. What am I getting out of this artwork that I couldn’t get out of a magazine spread? Couldn’t the Huffington Post have done a slideshow of this and called it a day? Photographs like this where the content is more spectacular than the artwork itself always has discouraged me. I sighed in disappointment; however, something to my left was really catching my eye.