Kapoor at the ICA: A Dizzying Display

1212068750I’ll be the first to admit I know next to nothing about art, yet I still insist on visiting museums several times a year, so my opinions, if not valuable, may not be entirely worthless. With that said, the Anish Kapoor exhibit, which opened last night at the ICA, is the best art experience I have had in years.

Even without an art vocabulary, it’s next to impossible to describe, so I apologize in advance. According to the ICA, “Kapoor’s sculpture seems to disappear, dissolve, levitate, or extend beyond a space the viewer can perceive.” Which seems accurate.

One piece is a huge concave, satellite-dish looking thing made entirely of tiny, hexagonal mirrors. So when you stand in front of it, you see a huge reflection of your face, consisting of hundreds of tiny reflections of your face. It’s mesmerizing. Another, probably, my favorite, is a bump protruding from a white wall, like a pregnant belly, so seamlessly that it’s next to impossible to gauge its size, unless you stand really really close, or try and touch it (throughout, the crowd struggled to resist the urge to touch these pieces; a small troop of security guards had to keep telling them not to).

Taken together, all the pieces are severely disorienting. I was dizzy after about five minutes. It’s next to impossible to tell, say, how far back some of them extended, there was no real sense of size, or, in some cases, of shape. Some well-heeled, full-grown adults were crouching or laying on the floor, laughing, trying to figure these things out. It seems like it would be great for kids, though you’d have to handcuff them to yourself to keep them from trying to climb inside some of the pieces.

In other words, I highly recommend it. And if you’re looking to make a night of it, make it a Wednesday. Hit the exhibit, then walk over to Lucky’s and check out the uncanny Sinatra impersonator. If the Kapoor exhibit didn’t mangle my expectations and sense of spatiality enough, walking in and hearing Sinatra, and then realizing it was coming out of a pudgy, somewhat short, somewhat hairy man certainly capped the effect. (Also, the S’Mores sundae was great, especially paired with Scotch.)