In his exhibition statement for “New Solutions” curator Brian Faucette enacts a fictional email exchange between a distraught homeowner and a design agency concerning the strange behavior of Ryu—a prominent interior decorator gone berserk. With the sculptures situated in Mr. Fine Art, an expansive artist space and residence on the Bowery, each artist seems to embody some aspect of Ryu’s neurosis.
Jory Rabinovitz and Jules Marquis take the interior design theme most literally. With sponge painting Rabinovitz employs a classic and kitschy decorators technique executed by way of post-minimal process art. Each sponge is a hand cast cube cut to the dimensions of the shimmering grid shape painted on the wall. The excess sponges and painters tape accumulated from the creation of the work are contained in two blue transparent cubes that also match the interior dimensions of the wall grid.
Jules Marquis, an artistic collaboration between Daniel Turner and Colin Snapp, uses an image of a young Muslim bride in elaborate ceremonial dress to create a wallpaper border that snakes across part of the gallery wall. The specificity of the image is undercut by its repetition and placement, and the flowery shapes and warm color tones allow the piece to function less as global voyeurism and more as a traditional domestic wallpaper covering.
Sam Anderson thinks small. She assembled a menagerie of tiny handcrafted humanoid figurines and assorted small curiosities found on site in the exhibition space. The objects are displayed on and around various square pedestals creating an intimate tableau of subtle human drama, which the viewer, feeling like a giant, must climb down the beanstalk to fully comprehend.
The most painterly sculptor of the group is Winston McCarthy who applies unfired kiln clay sealed to curving metal bars with epoxy and colorful pigments. A close inspection of these forms reveals strange organic surfaces, material struggle, and decay. When viewing the objects as a group, these wiry shapes move with the fluidity of expressionist brush strokes.
Jacques Vidal’s interior design strategy is to create a room within a room. His “Houston Room” is inspired in part by both a recording studio and a jail. He pays homage to regional rappers from Texas with a smirking plaster bust lodged behind yellow bars and a floor lined with prescription codeine cough syrup or ‘sizzurp’. The spiraling handmade clock on the wall is meant to speed and slow time to simulate the drug’s effects– suitably, a strange feeling of disorientation permeates the entire exhibition.
Great piece in the today’s New York Times Sunday Edition by a friend of T&P’s about the life and times of forgotten NY street photographer Jill Freeman. Yesterday the foothills behind my house caught on fire, and last night, on my way home from the grocery store, I passed group after group of “photographers” holding up their digital point-and-shoots (some on tripods) and camera phones and it made me think about how the ease of using these new technologies had democratized the medium, and how many more crappy photos are floating around the world as a result. This is not entirely terrible, but this article made me think about how many great photographers there must be from the lost age of the F-Stop which have eluded well-deserved recognition in recent times. So read.
I just walked in the door from the Whitney Museum of
American Art Biennial members preview. If this exhibition is the cultural litmus that it claims to be, well then two thirds of contemporary art is officially boring. See for yourselves. If you want to wait twelve hours in line tomorrow the weather is going to be nice (let’s not even talk about this weekend). But considering that you will only have thirty minutes from the time you get in until closing let me offer you a strategic approach. Skip the top two out of three floors all together.
There are a few exceptions, Phoebe Washburn is up there and she is always naively charming with her science projects, and her efforts here are no different (I used to work for her and we had frequent ping-pong breaks throughout the day). Also Olaf Bruening’s “Home2” is on view on the third or fourth, but if you are pressed for time (you will be) you can just watch it here. The second floor is a great show. It’s not really full of surprises, Karen Kilimnik, Rachel Harrison, and Rita Ackerman are all enjoyable. But you knew that didn’t you? The one that made me jittery with the excitement of a new discovery was the big clunky Jebediah Caesar piece in the middle of the floor. You will know what I am talking about when you see it, but for some reason old ladies feel a very strong inclination to smell this thing.In a hilarious act of total lack of self-awareness the Biennial this year has decided to have a satellite space. Why do I find this so amusing? The satellite space is basically the new I-Phone, in that every gallery owner and art dealer in New York who doesn’t have one or isn’t in the negotiations to get one, has been left feeling as self consciously cheap as the girl who wore the same prom dress two years in a row. Soooooo, if the Biennial wants to prove itself as an accurate account of the times they’ve gotta get one too, right? Well they did, and it’s at the beautiful Park Avenue Armory. In spite of the sheer excess of this gesture it may very well be the saving grace of the exhibition.
Remember back in 2002 when the Biennial was fun, when the curators were like “fuck it, viewing art should be good times great oldies, not a somber occasion”? I mean sure it was a little awkward waiting in lines to see pieces once you were already in but that only added to the Disney World-esque experience. Well over at the Armory viewing art is fun again. The giant castle has been transformed into a haunted mansion. With only a vague map to guide me I wandered from room to room in this giant space finding ephemeral acts of mysticism in dark corners like a feather tied to a record player lightly strumming an amplified guitar. Sure none of this work is really destroying my preconceived notions, but it was fun. Viewing the exhibition transformed into a ghost hunt and it is this kind of experience that I would encourage the Whitney to steer towards.
p.s. really sorry about the lack of images but you know how top secret these guys like to be.
Thomas Krens aka the prince of darkness aka the director of the Guggenheim foundation is resigning from his throne of human blood and gold. This is the man responsible for such tasteless moves as bringing a show of Armani Suits (underwritten by the company) to the Googs as well as giving Frank Gehry the “outsider architect” (Krens discovered Gehry in a mental institute in Appalachian Virginia) money to build heinous temples of poor aesthetic judgment across the globe, the newest in Abu Dhabi (let’s hope no cell-phone pics of this war crime surface) . Anyways, I will be breaking my long moratorium on the foundation in celebration of this news, and will be viewing “I Want to Believe” by Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang this week. Wanna Go?