With a video, an app and wall texts, Tacoma Art Museum has begun expanding the stereotypical Western art vision of its new Haub galleries
In “The Plains of Sweet Regret,” video artist Lucier does, in a way, what Rosa Bonheur, Albert Bierstadt, John Clymer and many others did in the 19th- and 20th-century Haub wing paintings — she captures a dying society through art and, in the process, romanticizes it. The difference, though, is that Lucier, equipped with contemporary cameras and an eye that refuses to shy away from the difficult, romanticizes the North Dakota plains people with the very things that symbolize their fading — broken boards, fallen cowboys, empty streets. With five giant projections around the walls of TAM’s largest gallery (and scattered vintage school chairs to watch them from — a nice touch) Lucier (commissioned in 2004 by the North Dakota Museum of Art) combines a rotating montage of Dakota imagery with the slightly eerie, slightly soppy soundscape of composer Earl Howard to re-create, as best one could, the experience not just of being in rural North Dakota but also being inside its memories, history and pain.
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