December 4, 2011

Art Review: Three pairs make for a great hand at ICA


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Sculptures and “furniture” by Matt Hutton and Cory Robinson.



WHERE: Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art, 522 Congress St., Portland

WHEN: Through Dec. 23

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday; until 7 p.m. Thursday


INFO: (800) 699-1509;

While Brou's paintings and architectural drawings of Room 233 seem to blend a stalker's obsessiveness with Andy Warhol's darkest pop sensibilities, his "Black Box" diorama (purchased by the Portland Museum of Art) implicates the viewer much as Grimonprez's film does.

While referring overtly to a plane's "black box," Brou's object looks like a giant movie camera. The viewer peers back through the lens to see a perfect replica of Room 233, but the experience echoes a peephole made to watch the sexual activities of guests at a cheap hotel.

Like Marcel Duchamp's "tant Donnes" installation at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, there is something dirty and wrong -- but powerful -- about assuming the voyeuristic viewpoint.

I was also particularly impressed by Robinson's and Hutton's sculptures and "furniture." Between their impeccable (and palpably self-conscious) craftsmanship and handsome use of space, they make for a beautiful and intriguing installation.

Their best quality, however, is their mystery. It's so savory, you don't want to parse the objects for specific meanings or storylines. Their delicious silence makes for an almost hallowed sense of place, even if it is shadowed by a liminal wisp of forgotten atrocity.

While part of me misses the raucous circuses of past MECA faculty shows, "A Perceputal Present" is strong enough to make the case that the ICA deserves national attention.

Whatever is going on at the ICA, I hope they keep it up.

Freelance writer Daniel Kany is an art historian who lives in Cumberland. He can be contacted at:


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