Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes

It opened a few weeks ago, but I haven't had a chance to write about Maya Lin: Systematic Landscapes at the Corcoran Gallery.

The exhibition, which looks at ideas about landscape and geology, contains lots of really cool pieces. It's just in the wrong space.

There are several really large pieces, like 2x4 Landscape, (above) which is a hill or wave made out of boards. The boards vary in length to create a swell. There's also Water Line, which maps an underwater landmass near Antarctica. Like other pieces on display, you can walk around it and view from different angles. On the wall there's Pin River — Potomac, which is made of thousands of straight pins and is a topographic representation of the Potomac River.

The pieces are classic Lin, and they explore how people's relationships to land and geology evolve over time, and are altered by modern technology. I wish it had been staged in a different environment. The rooms at the Corcoran are tiny, and it's difficult for many people to be in the exhibition at once. Also, the beaux arts design of the Corcoran building is an awkward home for Lin's work — just as I often lament how frames are mis-selected for artworks in museums around town, the Corcoran interior detracts from these pieces.

Photo courtesy PaceWildenstein.

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