Labels and Wit

L reminded me that Dario Robleto: Alloy of Love at the Frye Art Museum closes September 1st, so we stopped in this afternoon to catch it. There are several good reviews of the show so I won’t attempt to write my own, but will instead offer a few thoughts.

First, the labels are essential to the exhibition. Not only do they show creativity and wit (Shredded records of melancholy female vocalists I can believe, but powdered bones and ink from the letters of war sweethearts? SURE) but a regular match box or drum stick nestled in a velvet-lined box have no special meaning without the narrative Robleto weaves with his labels. Of course Robleto is playing with the controversial role of labels in art museums, should a pieces stand on its own and do visitors spend more time reading the label than looking at the art? To a museologist this push and pull is delicious, witty, and almost mind-exploding.

Second, the list of materials makes it fun to try to guess which might be true (shredded records, flowers made of human hair) and which are positively impossible (a woman’s powdered rib bone recast and carved into the form of a man’s rib bone). It’s a guessing game, it’s a lesson in reading and logic and possibility as much as it is a story.

None of this is particularly insightful, but these are the reasons I thoroughly enjoyed this exhibition (in addition to L’s excellent company and her decoding of the drum stick title “Your Moonlight Is In Danger Of Shining for No One” (it must be a play on Kieth Moon of the Who, she pointed out)).

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