Newport Beach, Oct. 22nd 2014 – The 2013 California-Pacific Triennial is supposedly the only exhibition in the Western Hemisphere devoted to contemporary art from around the Pacific Rim. The international exhibition is curated by Dan Cameron, OCMA’s new chief curator, and hosted by the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach, California. I have to say, that the exhibit IS something very unique and special and I would not have had the opportunity to see something like this, if I had not moved to California four months ago.
The triennial is dating back to the year when I was born – namely 1984 – to its first edition as California Biennial. The former California Biennial, as Dan Cameron describes it, “was a literal embodiment of a period in California art during which the evolving definition of the state’s cultural identity was framed as a platform for promoting both the artist and the place itself”. Today, I guess, not only art museums but also artists and other art professionals have to constantly redefine the meaning of Californian art and its meaning within the global context. The 2013 California-Pacific Triennial seems to reflect such efforts, giving an answer to the challenging task of developing new frameworks for thinking about California and its art.
For a little local museum putting on a triennial is pretty audacious and fierce (or maybe it was possible BECAUSE it is a relatively smaller local museum). I am impressed with the visually captivating presentation and the production of an internal narrative of the artworks that is guiding you effortlessly throughout the exhibition from beginning to the end. And still, the presentation gives you enough room to put in your own thought and interpretation, something I love to have when I look at an exhibition.
Since I am volunteering at the OCMA throughout the whole period of the triennial, I am fortunate to dive in deeper and explore the artworks with more time. And sometimes time works like magic, because it give you a whole set of new perspectives and fresh emotions when looking at the same pieces over and over again. One of my favorite artist during the triennial exhibition is ARAYA RASDJARMREARNSOOK with her work titled TWO PLANETS: MILLET’S THE GLEANERS AND THE THAI FARMERS, 2008. Since I am doing some research on cultural and racial identity representation in Western art museums, I was drawn to her piece immediately. The photograph, which comes with a video installation, speaks for itself. And I say that because in her images we do not see a lot of physical action but rather a mood which is almost meditative and calming. It makes the visitor focus on the IDEA that is presented, which often in her recent work is dealing with communication or non-communication between two different cultures and each of their definition of art.
The same idea of communication between different cultures connects also to the big idea of this triennial. Having 32 cutting edge contemporary artists telling stories about THE and THEIR world gives you an overwhelming feeling of participating in an imaginary international conference with artists. Where the communication is omnipresent (in every edge of the museum) and the definition of what is art nowadays, is open to every kind of interpretation.