Between Blockbusters at the ICA

January 26, 2009

On a freezing cold January afternoon, my companion and I decided on a quick getaway to Boston’s beautiful new Institute of Contemporary Art.

With Tara Donovan’s fantastical landscapes (composed of everyday objects like paper cups, toothpicks and drinking straws) now dismantled and a show of  street-artist (and Obama portraitist) Shepard Fairey yet to launch,   my companion and I were able to focus on highlights of previous exhibitions,  the work of emerging artists chosen as finalists  the ICA’s 2008 Foster Prize, the wonderful late afternoon light, Peet’s coffee  ($1.80) and huge brownies ($3.00) in the ICA cafe, which overlooks the water.

My companion, a college student just back from a semester in Israel, was particularly taken with Rania Matar’s  photographs showing moments of stability in wartorn Lebanon: an elderly woman in a business suit eading the same newspaper as black-dressed muslim women,   children playing amidst the rubble, and a stately home, seen through building ruins.

I liked having the quiet time to ponder acquisitions from previous shows:  Paul Chan’s digital animation of shadows,  and Roe Ethridge’s photograph of Countyline Meadowmere Park, in Long Island, New York.

A favorite oddity–by the French-born artist Kader Attia–  was  what appeared to be a relaxing video of  ice cube slowly melting and shifting against a brick backdrop …until closer inspection  (and the writeup) revealed that we were watching  oil turn sugar cubes into black, oozing goop–in a statement on global environmental decay.

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