Thursday, June 10, 2010

So I was among the fortunate few at the media preview for the much anticipated Pop Life exhibition at the National Gallery (NGC) on Wednesday morning. The show runs Friday, June 11 to September 19.

I’ll refrain from in-depth critical commentary on the show (the lovely and talented Sanita Fejzic is going to take care of that in Monday’s g-Gallery posting), except to share what I wrote in glow-in-the-dark chalk on the wall of the show’s darkened feedback room: “EXXXPLOSIVE!”

Thanks in part to the the already-controversial adult nature of some of the show’s content, the hype and buzz surrounding Pop Life may in fact be unprecedented in local circles—and for good reason. The internationally touring phenonmenon is big, bold, bawdy and anything but superficial.

But back to the preview. Poor Jonathan Shaughnessy, the NGC’s coordintator of Pop Life who had to lead a horde of 40 or 50 assorted media types through the show’s multiple rooms, a few of them loud with rock music. Jonathan must have felt like he was lecturing to a gaggle of scatterbrained cats. He virtually shouted his commentary at each stopping point and probably two-thirds of the very-distracted media reps weren’t listening much.

The tour revealed that this is the type of show where one saunter through will never be enough. There’s an abundance of eye candy and fodder for intellectual engagement.

Because almost everyone can relate to pop culture (I guest-lectured in a pop culture course at Algonquin College this spring), the Ottawa culture sector is not surprisingly showing signs of pop fever. Both WestFest and Blink Gallery are launching pop-themed art shows of their own in June, and there are probably other examples yet to pop into my head.