Culture: June 2005 Archives

Dennis Kane Them 2003-2004 acrylic on canvas 48" x 81"

Dennis Kane Seen 2004 acrylic on canvas, two panels total 36" x 62"

Dennis Kane Potlach 2004-2005 acrylic on canvas, four panels each 14" x 19"

Dennis Kane That 2005 acrylic on canvas, two panels, 26" x 24" and 19" x 16"

Dennis Kane Post 2005 watercolor and pencil on paper 22" x 36"

I think this post is something of a first for this site. It's in the form of an on-line gallery of work by a single artist, Dennis Kane. I'm uploading these images because I really like the work, because these are great jpegs and because this is the only way most people can see it - until he's picked up by a gallery with real walls rather than pixels.

In the interest of full disclosure, Kane was a friend and excellent conversational company long before we ever saw his art. We own one of his drawings but would like to live with more of his work. When we finally visited his studio last year Barry and I were greatly relieved to find that we didn't have to feign enthusiasm for his creations. I'm no good at feigning.

The paintings and drawings are beautiful, but Kane's images, while rarely abstracted, don't reveal their secrets easily. His higher education was focused on philosophy and fine arts. I may be stretching an analogy, but this is work composed by a musician. When not in his studio in Queens Kane may be found working in that most abstract art of all. For the past twelve years he has worked as a dj under the name Citizen Kane ["a wide range of the leftfield, slept on, forgotten stew" - rhythm(ism)].

From an essay by Takashii Tsude:

His works address issues of power as it manifests itself across the terrain of cultural signs. Drawing from obscure film stills, images found in the daily newspapers or in his own photography, Kane molds and constructs paintings and drawings that are both emblematic and open to an extended conversational reading. The nature of the image and technique varies, but the concept of engagement with the viewer remains consistent. Kane avoids didactic narratives, a consistent formal approach, and a heavily repeated iconography. His works are however united in their visual weight. Although not painterly, the work achieves presence through the specificity of each image, and the rigors of his presentational approach.

Closeups of two of the works:

Them [detail]

Seen [detail]

[images furnished by Dennis Kane]

Felix Gonzalez-Torres "Untitled" (Beginning) 1994 plastic beads and metal rod 115" x 79" [installation view]

view of gallery installation, including a detail of Iza Genzken's Untitled 2001, and on the wall behind, three Weegee gelatin silver prints from the 1950's: (dancer), Self-Portrait, and (gold painted stripper)

A wonderful show, beautifully installed, but how could it be anything else when the entrance just inside the door at Alexander and Bonin is defined by Felix Gonzalez-Torres's fabulous beaded curtain?

Art from as far back as 50 years ago looks as fresh as work produced as recently as this year in service of the theme, "Mirage," around which the exhibition was built by its curators, Julie Ault and Martin Beck. Okay I don't quite get the show's conceit from reading the press release, but it looks good and something interesting seems to be going on here.

The other artists with work here are the Atlas Group, Lewis Baltz, Jennifer Bolande, Robert Bordo, Moyra Davey, Peter Fend, Rodney Graham, Emily Jacir, Robert Kinmont, Mary Lum, Stephan Pascher and Florian Pumhösl.

Matthew Benedict The Children's Hall 2002-2005 diptych: plastic weaponry, chicken wire, brocade trim, enamel and latex paint on 2 wood panels overall 84" x 98" x 5" [installation view]

No, this isn't something you'll find in an armorial hall or the basement recereation room of that weird guy down the street who never talks to anyone, this is an art installation composed of plastic toys freely available and in fact actively hawked to children everywhere in America.

Think about it.

The Children's Hall [detail]

I missed Matthew Benedict's recent show at Alexander and Bonin, but I saw this exciting piece on an upper floor yesterday. I've been haunted by the informed imagery of the artist's paintings for years, and Benedict's sculptures continue to provoke the mind and the eye.

Rob Fisher's Twofold (flooring, wood, pipe and plaster) in the foreground, Chris Larson's C-prints Barn Razor No. 1 and Barn Razor No. 2 on the wall

Minneapolis artists taking Minneapolis apart and sometimes putting it back together. Great job!

The work being shown at Cohan and Leslie is by Fisher, Larson, Alec Soth, Aaron Spangler, Todd Norsten and David Rathman.

Sarah Ciraci Bikini 2005 wall drawing with black light sensitive paint, variable dimensions [installation view]

ESSO Gallery and Lombard-Freid Fine Arts have collaborated on an exhibition entitled, "ATOMICA: Making the Invisible Visible." This one is not for the faint of heart. On the 60th anniversary of the nuclear age, since we have accepted the idea of using its horrors as an an appropriate political instrument, that's unfortunately the way it has to be.

Jeff Hand Liz (on Box) 2003 faux fur on board 10" x 8" x 3.5" [installation view of a three-dimensional piece]

Plus Ultra's summer group show absolutely refuses to succumb to the languor of the season by offering lighter fare, and the work manages to survive an assault of light and heat which can easily frustrate less survigrous work.

I'm being a bit dishonest in illustrating this post with a Jeff Hand piece which is not included in the show itself, the larger and equally wonderful Parasol (after Goya). But I saw Liz in the rear of the gallery and it got to me in spite of my relative indifference to the icon represented by the icon. I thought it needed more exposure (I mean the faux-fur one).

I managed to get a few snaps of pieces which actually are in the show, and while I'm including them below this text they certainly do not represent the limits of its fascinations. The complete catalog includes Nancy Baker, Leslie Brack, Amanda Church, Jennifer Dalton, Nicholas Gaffney, Kate Gilmore, Joe Fig, Rosemarie Fiore, Jeff Hand, Christopher Johnson, Alois Kronschläger, Thomas Lendvai, Max-Carlos Martinez, Analia Segal, and Andy Yoder.

Oh yes, the title of this great tease of an exhibition is "The expression of elemental passions... (or, damn everything but the circus), so there's the summer part after all.

Joe Fig Joe Namuth's Pollock #8 2004-2005 polymer clay, plexiglass, wood, oil, enamyl and acrylic paints 12.5" x 12.5" x 12"

Leslie Brack L.B. 2003 oil on panel 19" x 22.5"

Christopher Johnson Oriental Sauna / Warren, Ohio 2005 oil on linen 20" x 16"

Paper Rad and Matt Barton extreme animalz: the movie: part 1 2005 video and mixed media* [detail of installation]

And they don't just sit there. Those neglected and somewhat disfigured creatures really move out when approached by visitors: Dancing fools, all of them.

The New Museum was host to the opening of two new shows this evening: Aernout Mik's extraordinary video installation, Refraction and an installation of internet-based art by Rhizome ArtBase 101.

Internet-based art is difficult enough to display in a traditional setting even without the additional complication of dealing with people partying while crowded into a limited physical space, so tonight's museum opening was not the ideal time to approach most of the work.

But there was one exception. Paper Rad's piece stood out probably only partly because this wonderful collaborative didn't stick to an electronic screen in assemblying their contribution: It's brilliant all the way through. In any event, the section of wall assigned to extreme animalz was definitely the place to watch. Because of the crush of bodies, the plug had to be pulled on the fantastic animation of these dozens of creatures. Since their movement would normally be triggered by the presence of a passing body, tonight the animals had to be guaranteed occasional respites; they were regularly set off briefly by their keeper, Jacob Ciocci, and each time it happened the entire room went nuts.

The museum press release helps us to understand the inspiration which united the discarded physical with the abandoned pixeled in this work:

Projects described as DIRT STYLE appropriate graphic detritus from the Web in gestures that both celebrate and satirize digital pop culture. In extreme animalz: the movie: part 1 (2005) by U.S.-based collective Paper Rad and Pittsburgh-based artist Matt Barton gif files of animals, sourced through Google's Image Search, are woven into a digital tapestry that is mirrored by a surrounding cluster of mechanized stuffed animals.
The artists in the Rhizome show included John F. Simon, Cory Archangel, MTAA (M. River and T. Whid Art Associates),, Marisa Olson and Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries, to name only a few and with no particular weight assignments. I couldn't find a complete list to include here, so I have to go largely by memory of the names connected to some of the images I saw tonight.

MTAA 1 year performance video (aka samHsiehUpdate) 2004 web site with flash

* the editor's description

[lower image from]



Not much is ever left unembellished, or unremarked, in Williamsburg.

This one is thanks to Barry's sharp eye.

view of the eastern end of Sylvan Terrace through a window of the octagon drawing room inside the Morris-Jumel Mansion

George Washington slept there.

A 1765 wooden American Paladian villa sitting in upper Manhattan on a rise which originally commanded both the Harlem Valley to the east, the Hudson River to the west and New York City some ten miles south, the Morris-Jumel Mansion (actually a country summer home) still offers its considerable pleasures to visitors. Today that means both the community immediately surrounding it and a much larger world beyond; two hundred years ago it regularly meant most of the founders of our republic.

Barry and I visited the house which for most of the nineteenth century belonged to the amazing Madame Eliza Bowen Jumel both out of curiosity about the place and for the attraction of an interesting program of eighteenth and nineteenth century English and German art song presented in the kind of space for which it was composed. It was a concert which could well have been enjoyed by this woman's own guests in that same room over 150 years ago.

On Saturday afternoon we sat in the drawing room below Washington's quarters, listening to songs in English by Haydn and some of his more obscure contemporaries. After an intermission we returned for two lieder cycles by a similarly-neglected Franz Lachner. Birds sang and could easily be seen playing in the trees outside the open windows decorated with red silk hangings.

The performance by the wonderful tenor Rufus Müller and Donsok Shin, his accompanist at the fortepiano, was artistry of the highest order, and would have been an enormous sensual pleasure even without the extraordinary peace and beauty of the venue. Some three dozen guests seated themselves in the octagon drawing room of Madame Jumel's chateau, the walls covered in a painted Chinese wallpaper of flowers and birds on a deep blue ground. We sat in a magic pagoda cooled by large beech and horse chestnut trees standing in what remains of an estate which once covered 130 acres across the width of the island.

After the performance we joined the museum hosts and the two artists for refreshments upstairs in the large central hall which runs behind the front balcony. A huge portrait of the redoubtable dowager Madame Jumel was very much a part of our company.

These intelligently-programmed concerts are scheduled regularly by Music at Morris-Jumel, and we're on the mailing list. Because of its delightfully small scale however, it's hard to imagine how this wonderful series of chamber music performances will survive in this city of mammon. I hope I'm wrong.

NOTE: I can't let this story go without lamenting that no one has yet written a satisfactory biography of the remarkable woman who became Madame Eliza Jumel. I wasn't even able to find an adequate account to link to for the purpose of this post, but the National Park service offers a tease:

The stately two-story Morris-Jumel mansion, built in 1765 in a Georgian style modified to suit a country setting, was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Jumel in 1810. Though Stephen Jumel was a former Caribbean plantation owner and successful wine merchant, it was the colorful and controversial Madam Eliza Jumel who became the talk of New York City society. Eliza Jumel's life typified the limited options of ambitious young women born into poverty in late 18th-century America. Forced into prostitution early in life as a means of survival, Eliza's fortune turned after meeting and marrying Stephen Jumel in 1804. The prejudices of society against those with such a background forbade any acceptance of Mrs. Jumel. Wealth permitted travel, however, and the Jumels sailed to France in 1815. There, Eliza found social acceptance, mingling with aristocrats while adopting openly Bonapartist sympathies. Such convictions, voiced soon after Napoleon's exile, proved too controversial for the new French government, and in 1816 Louis XVIII ordered Mrs. Jumel to leave France. Eliza returned to the mansion, but her marriage was soon in decline over Stephen's discovery of her early life and the dwindling Jumel fortune. While Stephen remained in France, Eliza sold business holdings and kept the profits, pursuing social acceptance through wealth while leaving Stephen penniless and hastening his death. Fourteen months later Eliza, then 58, married 77 year-old, former Vice-President Aaron Burr. The marriage was marked by Burr's misuse of the Jumel fortune and the two were formally divorced on September 14, 1836, the day of Burr's death. Jumel spent the rest of her life in the mansion, dying here in 1865 at the age of 90.

a grand two-story portico protects a small second story balcony at the front of the house

the octagonal drawing room and an upstairs chamber and cabinets is almost a separate garden folly, as it is attached to the rear of the house only at the short plane of one of its narrow ends.

Mark Andreas Seed Spreader hand-welded and forded steel 6' x 6' x 9' [installation view away from gallery]

Williamsburg's Dam, Stuhltrager Gallery usually manages to do things differently, whether it's in the choice of art shown, a wonderfully low-key style of exhibition, regular mailings of really imaginative show announcements, or, most recently, an outreach project of art images posted around the city. All of this is accompanied by a shocking indifference to normal gallery pricing standards, and the infectious, but surprisingly rare, good humor and enthusiasm for art shown by the two principals, Cris and Leah.

The current shows are particularly interesting, even if they are both damnably difficult to show in photographs alone.

Mark Andreas's Seed Spreader sculpture is almost the size of the gallery's main space, which would be problem enough, but properly experienced the work is spectacularly kinetic (I could hardly believe Leah Stuhltrager's account of its performance during the opening reception, and I understand there will be one more such event). Beyond that the piece might easily be described as approximately the size of the world on which it is a commentary. Hard to photograph. This is conceptual art made very material. Or, . . . the other way.

Excerpts from the gallery press release:

In Andreas mighty sculpture, SEED SPREADER, hundreds of pounds of welded and forged steel are unpredictably triggered into frenzied motion by the decomposition of a single twig. The towering Seed Spreader, weighing in at over 400lbs, is wound and activated to jump up in the air, spin three foot blades and shoot Scott's Pure Premium High Performance Grass Seeds which will grow in the gallery.

SEED SPREADER conceptually speaks to the lack of control consumers have over food production and physically mimics techniques employed by media and politicians to draw in an audience by the use of fear and intimidation. -M. Andreas

Bryan Zimmerman "Shadow Box Collages and Drawings" (each sold individually) [installation view]

Bryan Zimmerman
's show, "17-Year Cicadas," may have both a superficial and a conceptual relationship to that of Andreas, but it's developed in a very quiet place, in a very quiet manner. His drawings, hand-colored photographs and photographic collages are shown in the rear of the gallery, where it is too dark for a camera which prefers available light. For more sensitive human eyes however this is not an impediment.

Many of the works are very small. All of them are fascinating and some are absolutely breathtaking. The subtleties of his images and his hand, especially while accompanied by a gorgeous ambient music loop (written and performed by Laura Ortman), are best understood in the gallery and not in this post. His subject is a world we have all created through the destruction of one we had found. Zimmerman shows it to us as a world we can hardly begin to understand.

Again, from the press release:

Hand-colored composite photographs collaged with animal inhabitants, insect forms, gestural architectural renderings, decorated taxidermic specimen, and small reliefs that employ feathers, fur, and fly-tying techniques comprise Bryan Zimmermans narrative landscapes in 17-Year Cicadas. Evocative of cicadas that spend 17 subterrestrial years as nymphs, Zimmermans photographic collages evolve over several years and emerge from dark, impoverished America humming stories. Zimmermans 17 Year Cicadas, immortalizes the epic tale latent in overlooked gritty rural clumps, urban-pastoral rambles, and remote wilderness areas. His imagery of abandoned places pieces together the remnants of the sites imposed Hominidae history after people have packed themselves up and moved on. The locations pictured are humanized but also human-less.

The resulting landscape tableaux offer, in the artists words, pictures of wilderness and human desire happening in the same place.

[image at top from Dam, Stuhltrager]

one of Joyce Pensato's Felix drawings at Sarah Bowen, 2005, charcoal on paper

How often can the same artist's work take your breath away? Joyce Pensato does it for me every time. Yesterday the scene was Sarah Bowen's current show, "Medium Rare: Works on Paper." See Barry's post for our favorite image, but I'm including here a couple of details from various pieces to help document her genius.

(could be a magnification of any number of "great master" works)

(multiple staples evidence a serious energy not easily shut down)


Untitled and pretty anonymous.


This collage (an exquisite corpse?) was spotted this afternoon near the Bedford L stop.

installation view of Linda Ganjian's assemblage of ten separate sculptures at Annina Nosei

Her medium is somewhat less than digestible here, but Linda Ganjian's little sculptures in "Everland," the David Gibson-curated show currently at the Annina Nosei Gallery are very easy on the eyes and great fun to contemplate.

They're also unforgettable: I recognized the work immediately when I walked into the space. Ganjian was a delicious part of Parker's Box anniversary show, "I Am 5" last month. There, in a delightful move made even more fun for its element of risk in a small crowded temporary gallery space, she had added to her Polymer clay pieces some work which actually was edible. I'm very happy to say that I sampled the right ones.

detail of work in installation, "A-Z Advanced Technologies," by Andrea Zittel

Especially now that Roberta Smith has a review [scroll down] of both Michael Ashkin's and Andrea Zittel's excellent shows in the NYTimes, I'm keenly aware that there are almost no on-line images of Zittel's work from the collection she calls "A-Z Advanced Technologies" currently installed at Andrea Rosen. So here's a small tease, in the form of an image I captured a week ago.

Well, actually the move is only conceptual.

CRG Gallery's principals asked (were asked by?) the two young'ns who work in the gallery, Alex Dodge and Glen Baldridge, to curate a show on their own and the wonderful "Greater Brooklyn" currently filling the handsome space is what they got. Their press release tells us that all of the work is by unrepresented artists living and working in Brooklyn and "the surrounding boroughs."

I really like to visit shows like this, and I really, really like to be able to blog about them, so here's a selection of some of the more photogenic pieces.

George Boorujy Lincoln 2004 ink on paper 38" x 33" on the wall, Eric Doeringer "Untitled (Blue)" 200 mixed media 49" x 30" x 100" on the floor [installation view]

Marta Edmisten "Peter" 2002-2005 clear vinyl, paper and polaroid, dimensions variable [installation view]

See below for detail images, but go to the link above for the full scoop.



Joy Curtis Counter 3d (1 of 15) 2002 formica and adhesives on particle board 25" x 28" x 13" [installation view]

Keiko Narahashi Untitled (small red & white) 2005 oil, gesso, parchment, muslin and polystyrene 7" x 8" x 3" [installation view]

Ian Pedigo Fragments 2005 painted wood and cardboard 30" x 10" x 10" [installation view]

Key statement from the curators, who manage in a single paragraph to explain the how and why of intelligent life and good art in the city's current cult of youth and outer boroughdom:

Greater Brooklyn was conceived as an exhibition focusing on unrepresented artists living and working in Brooklyn and the surrounding boroughs.

Each summer hundreds of new artists, “fresh” from art school in some form or another, find themselves amongst their fellow classmates, cheap beer in hand in post-graduatory spirit, gazing at the Manhattan skyline from the rooftops of recently converted industrial buildings. Each year a little more distant and each year a few stops further along the subway lines. What was once dubbed “The City of Lost Souls” by a certain visitor to the Yale graduate program has become home, over the past few decades, to thousands of artists. A perennial phenomenon of the aspiring defined by proximity and necessity or by ambitions and a means toward them, ever growing and perhaps now after some 30 years of settlement this vast refuge of cultural producers is nearing something close to equity in terms of supply and demand. Only recently, in a commercial climate that seems to be constantly redefining the viability of newer and often younger artists, does it seem that there are fewer and fewer artists that can be called anything but emerging or emerged for that matter. Still, as always, there remain those that have yet to become noticed or “emergent”, and those that, after many years of making art, could still be called unknown by some notion of locality.

Greater Brooklyn seeks to find a different means of surveying new work by artists in New York. Inspired by a time when entire exhibitions are sold through emailed reproductions of artwork, the selection process involved an open-call to artists in the form of an email invitation distributed and redistributed as an undeterminable form of chain-networking. This resulted in hundreds of submitted applications and hundreds more digital images of the applicant’s submitted work. No studio visits were made. Instead the exhibition was curated entirely on the basis of digital reproductions and submitted samples of writing. 30 artist’s works were selected that represented unique and innovative approaches among largely unknown and unrepresented artists.

This is the complete list of artists in the show, which closes July 22:

George Boorujy
Josh Brand
Joy Curtis
Eric Doeringer
Marta Edmisten
Joel Edwards
Elise Ferguson
Bella Foster
Anthony Fuller
Allison Gildersleeve
Jerry Gunn
Joseph Hart
Jacob Hartman
Alex Hubbard
Butt Johnson
Theodore Kersten
Andrew Kuo
Jim Lee
Eddie Martinez
Brian Montuori
Keiko Narahashi
Ian Pedigo
Zak Prekop
Noam Rappaport
Gretchen Scherer
William Touchet
Michael Vahrenwald
Mandolyn Wilson Rosen
Sam Wilson
Erik Wysocan

Richard Prince My Religion 2004-2005 acrylic on canvas 107" x 156" [detail]

Richard Prince Continuation 2004-2005 fiberglass, bondo, acrylic and wood 44" x 69.75" x 82.5" [detail of installation]

Maybe it's just because I somehow came to his work late, but I really enjoyed Richard Prince's current show at Gladstone Gallery - even if it seems like a recapitulation of the recent past.

Have to admit however I still don't get the nurses thing; glad there's only one here.

Grace Graupe-Pillard Soldier/Rockefeller Center NYC (lightbox still from the series, "Interventions") 2003-2005 [large detail of installation]

I saw Grace Graupe-Pillard's installation at The Proposition almost a week ago and I was impressed, but I first looked at my digital pictures only this afternoon - while listening to Beethoven. The memory of her work compelled me to click onto an online version of the video projection show (with its own soundtrack, arranged by Elizabeth Grajales and Billy Annaruma) and it looks even better than I had remembered it - always a good sign I think.

Clarification: While the soundtrack of the gallery version of the video was composed by Grajales and Annaruma, the online version was composed by Deb King

The artist's statement:

In 2003, shortly after the onset of the Iraq War, I began working on a series of photographs entitled INTERVENTIONS focusing on the horror and human cost of wars being fought in "far-off places.” These photographs depict images of soldiers, car-bombings, ruins, explosions, and refugees, which I have digitally embedded into the familiar streets and parks of New York City, Baltimore and the New Jersey wetlands. Using the computer and digital filters, the "implanted" imagery borders on the abstract, with heightened color and kaleidoscopic patterns portraying the ordinariness of our everyday “reality” blown apart.

INTERVENTIONS attempts to make visually evident the ongoing tragic repercussions of war in our own “backyard,” as well as the equally powerful manipulation of the electorate through the “politics of fear.”

a look at the Sculpture Center's immediate neighbors on a quiet Sunday afternoon, perhaps a good part of the explanation of its relatively edgy appeal for artists and visitors; I imagine it's even more interesting during the week

The L train to Williamsburg wasn't available last Sunday (the MTA is figuring out how to get a creaky subway system to run without conductors or even, ultimately, trainmen). We had gotten to the 14th Street station before we found out that Manhattan had been cut off from the Brooklyn mainland, so we turned around and headed for Queens and a visit to the Sculpture Center.

The current show, "Make it Now: Sculpture in New York," includes very recent work by 28 New York-based artists and collaboratives.

The artists in the exhibition include Frank Benson, Nicole Cherubini, Andrea Cohen, Charlie Foos, Luis Gispert, Guyton/Walker, Dave Hardy, Rachel Harrison, Leslie Hewitt, Klara Hobza, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Nancy Hwang, Gareth James, Vincent Mazeau, Corey McCorkle, Robert Melee, Navin June Norling, Ester Partegás, Seth Price, Matthew Ronay, Bryan Savitz, SOL'SAX, Jean Shin, Gedi Sibony, Lisa Sigal, Roberto Visani, Phoebe Washburn, and Fritz Welch.
It's an extraordinarily diverse survey, and some of the pieces are pretty wonderful.

What follows are images of a small sampling of the work, their selection at least partly dependent upon how well a piece photographed.

Phoebe Washburn Poor Man's Lobster 2005 wood, painted gravel from courtyard, mixed media 15' x 18' x 14' [large detail of installation]

Leslie Hewitt Grounded 2004 cast iron railing with Sankofa detail, brick, cement, particleboard and housepaint 5' x 4' x 6' [installation view]

Nicole Cherubini A Pair of G-Pots with Lions 2005 ceramic, luster, fake gold and silver jewelry, chain, crystal ice, white, red and brown rabbit fur, rhinestone brooch, marbelized formica, black Plexiglas, blue foam, tar gel, plywood 36" x 68" x 53" [installation view]

Lisa Sigal Purves Gardens 2005 sheetrock, joint compound, insulation board, house paint 15'7" x 35' [large detail of installation]

Robert Melee [large detail of installation of, from left to right, Poplar Blinds, Him and Her] all 2005

Fritz Welch under guests to drift living 2005 wood, paper, vinyl, fiberglass, plastic, graphite, iodine, paint, bones, dust, glitter, fabric, string, dimensions variable [small detail of installation]

Charlie Foos Monument with Anthem 2005 video loop, tape player, pedestal [still from video on monitor; detail of installation visuals]

Nancy Hwang Impromptu 2005 video recordings of conversations (on site), conversations in the green room (on-site), Village Voice back-page ad (off-site), and audio recordings of piano (off-site) [detail of installation visuals]

Tobias Putrih Anthology/Courthouse 2005 monofilament and rear projection screen, dimensions variable [detail of installation]

Every time I go back to Max Protetch Gallery after having missed a show or two I have to wonder how I could have so deprived myself. Always imaginative, usually totally new, invariably very smart, sometimes complicated, often very minimal, Max's shows are generally pretty idiosyncratic, but they're never dull and they're often totally breathtaking.

The current show of scupture and video by Tobias Putrih covers most of this ground at once. The image above shows part of one of two pieces in the space which use reconfigured movie screens sized to match those in New York's famous Anthology Film Archives. From the press release:

The sculptures soar through the gallery space, formal meditations on the dual nature of cinema as both a physical and ephemeral experience.

. . .

[The screens] are no longer sites for projection, but projections themselves, free to define physical space.

Reuben Lorch-Miller Untitled (Helicopters) 2004 video projection [still]

There was a time when my relationship to the helicopter was very simple. I absolutely loved these machines, and of course like most little kids I wanted one of my own.

Even if they had been used during the Korean War their role seemed to be fundamentally that of angels of mercy as they facilitated the evacuation of the wounded. Then, I think sometime during the horror of the Viet Nam years, I became aware of the concept of the helicopter gunship and the discovery deeply disturbed me: Helicopters were being used in anger. More recently these great noisy dragonflies have assumed an impossibly heavy role in several particularly indefensible contemporary wars in the Middle East, where they strike indiscriminate terror among both civilians and combatants whom we or Israel have labelled as the enemy.

Even here in a fundamentally peaceful Manhattan, while residents are not the target of helicopter-borne rockets and machine guns, we are all regularly assaulted day or night by the frightening whup-whup-whup of these almost unequivically sinister and fundamentally military flying machines as they pass or hover low above our homes, often shinning high-powered searchlights on apartments below.

Sometimes they come in packs and they stay in packs, and it is that very scary phenomenon which Reuben Lorch-Miller addresses in a powerful and strangely beautiful video currently being shown at Schroeder Romero* in Williamsburg.

I have to point out that although in the video the helicopters are for the most part only hovering in place, a still image like the one above is almost meaningless, especially without that nightmare sound. See the artist's site to download an excerpt which includes sound.

Heidi Schlatter Partridge Nest 2005 Duratrans in light box 16" x 20" [installation view]

In the main gallery Heidi Schlatter is showing rich lightbox photographs of staged deaths recorded in almost-ordinary landscapes. In each of these sets there seems to be something off - these are places neither quite natural nor obviously designed. The press release explains:

Heidi Schlatter's solo exhibition features lightbox images of rural locations in Switzerland and New York State, which draw connections between the natural landscape, photography and advertising. The recognizable logos in these oxymoronic scenes of faked deaths and accidents contrast the pervasive cultural optimism of branding and product placement with a sense of dread and doom.

* apparently because of a glitch, at the moment the gallery website does not include the current show

[image at the top from Schroeder Romero]

Jenny Saville Shift 1996-1997 oil on canvas 130" x 130" [large detail]

She doesn't need this humble blog to attract attention; she's already there. But after a visit today to, well . . . okay, I'll admit it, the vast halls of Gagosian, I couldn't resist broadcasting this gorgeous detail - even if it's a very poor substitute for being there with the paint.

Jenny Saville Shift 1996-1997 oil on canvas 130" x 130"

[lower image from Gagosian gallery]

Ryan on the left, Barry with the sawed-off shotgun on the right

We hadn't yet left the seductive sidewalk gallery of Eric Doeringer early this afternoon when Barry and I spotted the Humphrey Industries/ open-air kiosk in front of one of the last auto repair garage/receiving stations left on 24th Street (fortunately, like the site Eric had chosen, it too was closed on Saturdays).

Absolutely anyone who knows us would not dispute my claim that neither of us is fond of guns or gun imagery, but I have to admit that Barry and I both found the particular charms of Ryan Humphrey's extensive, if very wooden, selection almost irresistable. In the end however we decided a painted canvas frisbee target (clay pigeon?) was more our style, even if we're almost certain to be back.

some of the merchandise available

Ara Peterson/Forcefield Third Annual Roggabogga Motion Picture 2002 video 6 min. 7 sec. [video still]

Ara Peterson 12 Ball 1997 video 2 min. 51 sec. [video still]

view of Justin Samson installation showing Nandor the First and Treebeard (2004 mixed media) in the foreground, Bactroban (2005 record cover collage with yarn) mounted on the wall behind

Justin Samson Visitors 2004 collage on paper 16" x 10" (19.75" x 13" framed)

John Connelly Presents continues to balance shows in two separate gallery spaces on the tenth floor of 526 West 26th Street, and they're always eye-openers, even for the most jaded art boulevardier. This month is no exception, with eleven abstract videos by Ara Peterson in one room, and Justin Samson's extravagant installation in his reconstruction of the main space.

Michael Ashkin Adjnabistan 2005 recycled cardboard and gypsum 46" x 132" x 252" [large detail of installation]

Michael Ashkin's new large-scale piece, Adjnabistan, represents a significant departure from his handsome earlier work, which at least appeared to be about realism, even if it enclosed an angry conceptual core. The latest work, which almost entirely fills Andrea Rosen's project room, is both fundamentally and apparently conceptual, even if it retains enough of an element of realism to seduce the child in all of us.

From the press release:

“Adjnabistan” is the name of the anti-nationality I invented with a friend while traveling through the Middle East in the late 1970s. Derived from the Arabic “adjnabi” (meaning “foreigner,” “stranger,” or “other”), this land of impossible origin proved useful, especially in Iran, where, as an American, one needed to avoid treacherous political discussions. If said with the proper lightness of tone, “Adjnabistan” could provoke a smile or even be accepted without question. In any event, we could not be accused of lying or insincerity; in fact, the more I used this word over the months, the more I came to develop mental images of this shadow homeland. These images varied widely and, like a dream, spanned numerous geographies, but empathetically included aspects of the political and economic neglect evident in the landscapes through which we passed.

To illustrate the most extreme version of the schism between ideas and means, Ashkin imagined Adjnabistan as a community at the far end of exclusion, i.e., as a squatter/refugee/concentration camp built from used or abandoned shipping containers, situated in a fringe wasteland. The physical piece developed accordingly, with three forces asserting themselves: the inhabitants’ hopes and aspirations, the social, political and economic constraints they encountered; and finally, the artist’s own interests in developing a work of art. As the piece developed, fences were built, torn down and rebuilt. Watch towers became guard towers. Family compounds became prisons then perforated by fresh doorways. Structures too grandiose were dismantled and scavenged. The town underwent cycles of overflow and attrition. Populations thrived, perished or set themselves adrift in the surrounding desert.

Omigosh, I don't think there's ordinarily a connection between the two rooms, but I just realized the brilliance of a decision which brings together Ashkin and Andrea Zittel, who is showing work in the gallery's main space, part of the latter's continuing real and conceptual explorations of "the limitations of living space."

This page is an archive of entries in the Culture category from June 2005.

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