Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Beast With Two Heads

Dueling reviews of Elaine Bradford's "Museum of Unnatural History"

Kelly "Killer Knuckles" Klaasmeyer vs. Douglas "Da Bruiser" Britt

K. K.- Houston Press
"Museum of Unnatural History" Is a Pitch-Perfect Parody

D.B.- Houston Chronicle
Artist Turns Animal Kingdom Upside-Down

opening line:

Elaine Bradford crochets clothes for dead animals.
Houston’s newest natural history museum has everything you’d expect to find in an institution devoted to the latest discoveries from the animal kingdom: dioramas populated with taxidermy animals, colorful documentary photographs and a gift shop stocked with calendars, tote bags and snow globes.

K.K.-1 D.B.-0

Buried thesis:

Her new show at the Art League Houston, "Museum of Unnatural History," is reportedly the artist's farewell to taxidermied animals — she will neither clothe nor mutate them after this.
The warmth of Bradford’s humor matches that of her sweaters, and her fusion of the traditionally male-dominated sci-fi realm with the “woman’s work” of crochet is truly satisfying.

K.K.-2 D.B.-0


From the depressing dirty ocher color of the walls to the wood bases of the dioramas sporting gold letter labels, the installation channels the stuff of school field trips.
In the Sidereal, Mother Nature is handy with a hook and yarn.

K.K.-2.5 D.B.-.5

Name Dropping Ho:

Bradford even collaborated with a writer, J.D. Ho, to create a helpful "guide" to the collection and informational wall text written in museum-ese.
Bradford’s collaborator, J.D. Ho, a Michener Fellow in Writing at the University of Texas at Austin, came up with the pitch-perfect exhibition text, which aptly mirrors what you find in educational museums — complete with cheesy “fast facts” and “did you know?” blurbs.

K.K.-2.5 D.B.-1.5

Flight of Fancy:

Bradford's a talented and inventive artist, and the animals are as witty as they are labor-intensive, but there is also something kind of poignant about staring into the glass eyes of a dead stuffed squirrel clad in a lovingly crocheted bodysuit.
When you consider how much work must have gone into fusing the taxidermy animals’ bodies together and then crocheting their outfits, the pseudo-Darwinistic theories advanced in the wall texts start to seem like a more plausible explanation of how these creatures got here.

K.K.-2.5 D.B.-2.5

Last line:

If you thought she just did deer heads, this is the show for you.
Between Ho’s writing and Bradford’s creations, if you leave the Museum of Unnatural History in a bad mood, that may mean you’re missing one of the most important adaptations for survival in our world — a sense of humor.

K.K. 2.5 ... D.B. 3.5

Oh!!!! Britt from the Chron punches out a woman!!! For shame Britt, for shame.

Who do you think takes the cake???