Frances Stark at the MFA

This past weekend the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Mass. said goodbye to “UH-OH” an exhibit of simultaneously minimalist and in-your-face art by Los Angeles-based artist and writer Frances Stark. Stark’s exhibit serves as a manifesto of sorts, influenced heavily by the artist’s reflections on literature, music, sex, domesticity, pleasure, and pedagogy. The gallery showcases 25 years of work in which one sees the artist transition from carbon copy drawings to digital video installation.

The art all about the artist – revealing a deeply narcissistic tendency – but it is also intensely relatable and invites the viewer the see themselves in the art. What brought me back to the exhibit multiple times throughout the five months it was housed at the MFA was how Stark uses text in her artwork – as a writer it is the medium I am most comfortable in. But while the medium made me feel at home, the message was always thought provoking and often unsettling.

What writer doesn’t see themselves in the words “why can’t you assemble yourself and write?” What artist hasn’t bee here: “for one second I though I could approach this sketchbook as though it were a gated playground in which I could freely indulge my imagination. Do you know how short a second is?”

While these kind of messages remind those of us who are always questioning and doubting ourselves that others feel the same, but Stark does not go as far as to comfort the viewer. Instead she prompts the viewer to silently dwell on her rhetorical questions and critiques about the self and society, leaving the exhibit utterly unsettled and satisfied.

You can follow my live tweeting of my visit at @Rowena__Lindsay


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