Oct 30

Real Life, Two Ways

by Fiona Wren · 1 comment

When you first see Ron Mueck’s 800-pound sculpture of a baby girl, you might feel a mixture of things. First, you might be really thankful that the baby is a healthy pink colour – a much livelier shade than it appears in photographs. Then, if you look into her eyes, you’ll probably feel startled at how aware she seems.

Of course, around that time you might also feel as if someone else is watching you – that “someone else” is another sculpture, a gargantuan baby head that surveys the room with dark, innocent eyes.

A couple of weeks ago, there was a flurry of controversy surrounding the Mueck exhibit and the Glenbow Museum’s decision to feature the gigantic, naked baby girl on their Calgary Transit ads. And regardless what you think of how that all settled (they decided to use a photo of the baby head, instead) there is something undoubtedly arresting about Mueck’s work. He takes a close, unflinching look at life at its difficult beginning and what can be a feeble end.

Around the corner from Mueck, you’ll find Guy Ben-Ner, an Israeli artist who takes a whole different approach to documenting life, through video performances and a different kind of sculpture all together. His pieces are quirky and humorous – check out Stealing Beauty from 2007, a semi-scripted soap opera starring Ben-Ner’s family and filmed in various Ikea showrooms around the world. Without permission. While people are shopping. (Yes, the result is pretty funny, and no, Ikea was not cool with a film crew and actors using their displays.)

Regardless of which exhibit you prefer, both Mueck and Ben-Ner have some interesting things to say about life and how we live it. You’ll come away from “Real Life” with plenty to ponder.

“Real Life” is at the Glenbow Museum until January 24, 2010.

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