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The man who stares at… paintings?

blog by Emily Stoll  • 

It seems crazy.  It’s unusual, to say the least.  After all, why would someone stand in front of a painting for 40 hours just to stare at it?  But that’s just what Jonathan VanDyke is doing.

From Saturday, May 28 to Thursday, June 2 - excluding Monday, May 30, due to gallery hours - VanDyke will be at Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery, standing in front of Jackson Pollock’s “Convergence.”

VanDyke’s performance, “The Long Glance,” is filled with powerful statements on the effects of technology and culture, along with many other topics.  And this isn’t even the first time he’s done this.  Though before it was during the gallery’s closing hours, he once filmed himself doing a similar project in 2008 at the Colby Museum of Art with a piece by Alex Katz.

The Long Glance will be broken into seven or eight hour segments to fit gallery hours, but the challenge is still great; VanDyke is already training in strength, endurance, balance, and positioning.  He is also preparing mentally; who knows what will pop into his head while he’s standing there with nothing to do but think?

Each morning, VanDyke will position himself in front of the piece at the gallery entrance just before its 10 a.m. opening until the 5 p.m. closing, with only one brief 20 minute break.  His goal: to remove and ignore all distractions and simply focus and reflect.

As he stands there, visitors can observe him, much as they observe the art, or simply look at the painting with him as he makes his silent statement about the influence of technology and culture on our focus and how we divide our attention.

If you can get to the gallery during that week, it’s sure to be an interesting spectacle.  If not, take a look online at the live stream during the performance.  And on Friday, June 3, come on over to the gallery from 1:30 p.m.-5 p.m. for a reprisal and a 7 p.m. discussion of VanDyke’s experience.

TAGGED: albright-knox art gallery, art, arts, exhibition, jonathan vandyke

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