What if there were a way to capture all of art history into a single shot? What if that "if" turned from a maybe into a yes? It'd be a crowning moment for an ever-evolving medium. And now, a locally bred artist has attempted to do just that.
Todd Pavlisko is a Cincinnati native (well really, an Oxford native), who currently resides in Manhattan. His latest exhibit, Crown, opened on Friday at the Cincinnati Art Museum, and it's something the museum has never seen before. Staged back in 2012, a highly trained sharpshooter fired multiple bullets into a brass cube through the Schmidlapp Gallery into the Great Hall. The shots were recorded on camera and have since been cut and edited to exist as part of this groundbreaking exhibition. Monitors are staggered alongside the Schmidlapp's iconic pieces playing a looping video, which shows the bullet's journey in slow motion as the bullet acts as docent guiding patrons through periods of art history.
Time. That's what this exhibit and the complementary exhibit, All The Money I Found In A Year, residing on the floor of the Dutch galleries, are all about. (Truth be told, it's all the money Pavlisko found in the past 10 years.) So what is it about the plasticity of time that is so interesting? How it is simultaneously infinite and finite, elusive and identifiable?
In these parallel exhibitions, Pavlisko asks us to take a voyage back to the past before standing upright again in the present. Each object we touch has a story. And from one person to another, that story is revealed, refracted, and eventually either lost or maintained. In this case, a bullet is merely a metaphorical tool to tell not just one story but all stories before they converge and (ultimately) reside in the modernist brass cube.
Likewise, the coins (from the Money exhibit) come embedded with their own characters and plot points. Seriously, just imagine how many packs of gum were bought with that chunk of change and where those quarters have traveled since first being minted at the Dept. of the Treasury.
One could easily look at these exhibits and scoff. They certainly feel more suited for the CAC or MoMA than the CAM, but they are tethered in origin points. And origins are what art museums are meant to showcase and preserve. The power of great art is the power to provoke thought and bind mediums. In Crown, Pavlisko has managed to capture the studies of science, film, art, and philosophy into a single object.
As Socrates is famous for saying, "Wisdom begins in wonder," so we must thank Pavlisko for taking an idea and wondering if it were possible. We must thank the people he charged with said idea for championing it as their cause. Finally, you can thank me once you experience Crown. That, my friends, is when the wisdom arrives. Or so I've heard.