Thursday, October 2, 2008

Eye of the Beholder

We have a print disagreement in our office. No, this situation doesn't involve lasers and toner; it is a disagreement over a framed decoration.

In one of the edit bays is an innocuous, framed print. It has been hanging for a number of months now, but one of my co-workers, insists that it is hanging in the wrong direction. It is clearly, Mr. Difficult* says, a landscape. Another co-worker, Buck Buck**, cites the position of the hanger on the frame and the signature of the artist to prove it is hanging correctly. (Aside: unlike the infantile atmosphere of my previous job, this is the closest thing to "office politics" we have…thankfully!)

This week, I entered the fray. I had never paid much attention to the print, but it was moved after a redecoration. I also suddenly saw a landscape turned on its side. "Who is to say the artist signed horizontally? I think Mr. Difficult is correct. It was hanging wrong. Maybe we should turn it when we re-hang it?"

The cold war was over.

I had taken a side, which left Buck Buck to find allies. The only other person in our small company, The Veggie Pirate***, was not involving herself in this conflict. (I guess a wise pirate knows rough waters when she sees them.) So, who was to help? Would the print soon find itself hanging on its side in defeat?

Damn you Google.

Using his abilities to read nearly indecipherable signatures and keen search engine skills, Buck Buck presented us with facts. The artist is Noah Li-Leger. The print in question is "Solar Emssion II." Now remember, Mr. Difficult and I didn't have the benefit of knowing the title of the piece. Leaning the head far left, see the landscape?

So, the print was correct in the first place. I withdraw my opinion and status returns to quo, right? Eh, no. Mr. Difficult has decided we need to hang the print in landscape anyway. He likes it better that way. Take that artists! You sold it; you gave up a voice in the display! Um, right? Right?

Maybe this is a discussion better left to those more equipped to handle it, but "what if?" What if The Louvre displayed Mona Lisa upside down? Or David was suspended on his head? I mean parody is one thing, but purposefully hanging a work incorrectly!

For now the cold war has returned. The print remains in limbo and off the wall…


*Since I am disinclined to use real names or full names here, I'm replacing his name with a nickname. For the record, I did not invent this moniker. "Mr. Difficult" is a handle he often employs on the Internets…
**Again, I didn't invent this one…
***Her forum nickname…

6 comments:

Achilles said...

... just saying, isn't it possible that the website posted it sideways?

Todd Camplin said...

The tension of the abstract is the fact that the image wants to be landscape in our head, but the artist has force us to break from the landscape, which allows the work to further remove itself from the referring to real world of objects. Notice the colors of the image, earth tones. This further adds to the tension of the work being on its 'side.' You're meant to feel uncomfortable by the composition and at the same time you are meant to feel comfortable with the nice colors. The fact that the work is stirring up trouble shows that the image is powerful and engaging, which in turn shows that the work should be displayed.

TonyN said...

Um, I guess. But, you can keep the tension and the uncomfortable composition out of our office, thank you very much. Deadlines create enough of that without any help.

No doubt the artist did their job, but I guess we made the mistake of hanging it. A business is not a place for that kind of discussion, frankly. So, at least for now, the print has been removed. Though, there is a compromise in the works. We'll see…

Todd Camplin said...

In the movie, 'Cradle Will Rock,' the business leader, Nelson Rockefeller is quoted as saying that he 'longs for paintings of pure color and form, free of potentially subversive subject matter'. Although this maybe a fictional quote and I understand the need for peace in the work place, I find it iconic that an abstract work of art is making such a fuss. I hope there is a way that everyone can release the tension. Might I suggest a work by Todd Camplin as a replacement, ha ha.

TonyN said...

Well, it should be clear that the "tension" and "argument" has been with good spirits. It's a friendly discussion over meaningless things. (Unlike my previous job, which was full of angry discussions over…meaningless things!)

I'll see what I can do about putting up a Camplin. :)

Troy Camplin said...

Is the discussion truly over something"meaningless"? What is art if it does not have meaning? Doesn't the proper display of an art piece contribute to proper conveyance of its meaning? Meaning is of course given to objects, which means that the argument is precisely over meaning. Mr. Difficult is attempting to impose his meaning on it despite the desires of the artist. The one who hung the work is attempting to show some level of solidarity in agreeing with the artist on what the work means. Where, then, does that place you? :-)