Photo Diary: Barry McGee at the ICA Boston.

Untitled 2005-2012 by Barry McGee at ICA Boston
Untitled 2005-2012, one of Barry McGee’s wall “boils” at the ICA.

Detail from an untitled installation constructed with old letter press trays by Barry McGee.
Detail from an untitled installation constructed with old letter press trays.

An object from Barry McGee's
These are some of my favorite pieces in the show: bulbous paper mache (I think) spheres with bits of McGee’s trademark sign lettering on them. There’s something very Katamari Damacy about them.

A portion of an untitled wall piece from 1999-2012. I like the way he buffs out pieces of the piece only to layer over it.

Another untitled piece, this one comprised of framed drawings, pictures and other ephemera.

A detail from the above installation. McGee has a keen sense of what makes the street interesting: from its characters to its improvised private spaces.

The exhibit contains plenty of ephemera. Seen here, an installation from 1992/2012, that contains a rack full of old spray cans.

A tower of TVs, from 2002/2012, features McGee’s trademark images: digitized tags, geometric patterns, and found footage that in some way references street culture (including graffiti).

A detail from the TV tower.

A wood wall boil, with a percussive element.

A wood sculpture is used to drum against the piece. (Unfortunately I didn’t get to see it in action.)

A room dubbed the “Contemporary Art Centre” pulls together all kinds of ephemera in the form of glass vitrines and wall hangings. In addition to producing his own work, McGee is a habitual chronicler of street culture. (This arrangement caught my eye because my dad used to collection those weird old man heads.)

Certainly, part of this gathering of objects results in a good amount of self-mythologizing.

Would love to see a room full of the paper mache spheres.

Like the repurposed wood sculptures.

Repurposed wood sculptures spray away endlessly before a collaged wall.

A structure covered in old letterpress trays features one of McGee’s trademark figures: one of his down-and-out men.

A detail of an installation in the ephemera gallery.

An animatronic tribute to McGee’s collaborator Josh Lazcano (aka AMAZE).

The wall boils always look as if they are on the verge of oozing out all over the gallery floor. There’s something mildly hallucinatory about these. I feel like I continually have to ask myself, “Is that wall breathing?”

A photographic detail.

A wide view of the piece.

Barry McGee is on view at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston through September 2.


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