Archive for March, 2009

A Little Action

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Nobody cares about your precious objects. And while your show sits idly for a month at an empty gallery, gathering dust, 30 other shows will have come and gone. Those galleries and alternative spaces were crowded each night with provisional, experimental projects that burst open and shimmered for one day or night. They converge, rather than emerge, existing more as participatory group play done for the process, not the result. No goals loitering on the horizon. Teleological creativity is so Old Testament. Now, groups of people can join in the fun, and the art is about the doing together, rather than the done alone. So stop priming all those canvases, and put your power tools on eBay.

Artist Lizzie Wright Polishing Pennies
Artist Lizzie Wright Polishing Pennies

That seems to be a paradigm, maybe powered by the desperate instability and uncertainty of the conventional distribution system. Nothing is really selling, the gallery might not be open next month, and who can afford cadmium colors or bronze fabrication? (I mean, just look at these horrible photos. I’d like to replace my stone age Canon poop-and-shoot, but gadgets don’t grow on trees.)

DiSoRgAnIzEr: Artist Jacob Robichaux
DiSoRgAnIzEr: Artist Jacob Robichaux

Jacob Robichaux embodied an epicenter of creative activity last night at Museum 52, the cool gallery succeeding Participant, Inc at 95 Rivington, next to the synagogue that collapsed about two years ago.

Artist Scott Hug w/ local heartthrob Alex Hudson w/ Jake Ewert's corduroy painthing; (r) Artist Daphne Fitzpatrick
Artist Scott Hug w/ local heartthrob Alex Hudson w/ Jake Ewert

Jacob’s solo debut at the gallery last year, ...bell, string, whistle, cube… featured sculptures, collages, and sculptural paintings, “painthings” (as coined by the indispensable Sam Gordon), each of which was then selected by a peer, who would enact a performance based on/inspired by that particular piece. What a smart way to ensure that dialogue circulates around one’s work, while constantly revitalizing an inevitably stationary show. Another example would be Richard Aldrich’s sound performance, which I wrote about here a few weeks ago; that exemplified collaboration and casual performance embedded in the commercial space of luxury goods. Or the current Laura Parnes show at Participant, marked by screenings and readings. Or the recent Paper exhibition at Artists Space, perforated by weekly performances. An older one would be A.L. Steiner’s panel discussion in the project room at John Connelly Presents, during her show, One Million Photos, 1 Euro Each (Minimum Order), or her co-labia-rative project co-founded with Nicole Eisenman, Ridykeulous, which hosted a freewheeling performance/exhibition night at the very same space, when it was still Participant, Inc. (Gee, Participant must be onto something!) You could note scores of other artists who insist that the gallery be a relational, performative space, and not just an exhibition room. Personally, I’m excited for TM Davy’s upcoming night at Envoy Gallery.

1. Harry Potter, 2. Artist Julia Goldman, 3. Museum 52 Director Liz
1. Harry Potter, 2. Artist Julia Goldman, 3. Museum 52 Director Liz

So Jacob’s night, DiSoRgAnIzEd, was the penultimate twinkling link in the chain of one-offs happening at Museum 52 as it leaves Rivington St, roams in a holding pattern and eventually settles into a new space, rumored to be the space formerly known as the seminal Rivington Arms. DiSoRgAnIzEd included penny cleaning, popcorn popping, web surfing, a dance class, and many other events, in the midst of casual, disheveled objects, art or art-related. For example, the accomplished and essential sculptor and painter Lucky De Bellevue hung a recent rejection letter from the Guggenheim Foundation. The work in the show was intimate and “submitted for the approval of” the immediate community/scene, compounding the communal atmosphere electrified with collaboration.

What
What's Poppin? Artist Elizabeth Reddin @ Popcorn bowl; dogs need art, just like humans.

So I’m tossing out all my brushes and gesso. Objects completed in solitude are relics, while the real action is in the real action.

You Can Dance if You Want To: Artist Mariah Robertson leads a dance class
You Can Dance if You Want To: Artist Mariah Robertson leads a dance class
IMAGES: Michael Bilsborough

House Synch Crisis

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Looking to get away this summer? Recession cut into your travel budget? Too old for STA discounts? Too restless for a staycation? Then Lisa Kirk has a deal for you.

Open for one more week, her project at Invisible-Exports, House of Cards, is a shanty assembled entirely from found materials. You can enter the enclosure and tread across the cardboard floors, pausing to examine its improvised amenities: dining room, bar, sleeping quarters. When you reach the exit of this shotgun space, you’ll find yourself in a sales office, carpeted and painted an innocuous beige, where one of the sales specialists – not gallerists – will pitch the selling points of the shanty and offer you the opportunity to purchase a share in the shanty timeshare.

That share, only $199.99, consists of a week-long occupancy in the shanty during the period in which it will be installed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. For a little extra money, $599.99, you can add to your week-long getaway one of the 52 component pieces of the shanty. And for much more still, $8999.99, you can have that piece cast in bronze. I tried to purchase the week of July 4, but that was “on hold.” A friend bragged that he had scored Fleet Week; wish I had thought of it. Act now: after the show closes next weekend, share prices will go up.

Interior (l) and kitchen/sink (r)
Interior (l) and kitchen/sink (r)

A satirical show about timeshare shanties – luxury slumming – is perfect for this year, rued for the recession caused at least partly by foolhardy home loan deals. The devastating tsunami of foreclosures and stalled construction sites tragically has deposited many of the victims into tent cities, ghettos of lean-tos for the down-and-out. -Maybe her next project could be an orchard of guillotines for AIG executives.

Let Them Eat Cake
Let Them Eat Cake

For those in the know, a “sub-exhibition” is installed downstairs in the basement, featuring Molotov cocktails, gunpowder, pipe bombs, and a projected video, which is the commercial for “Revolution.” It’s sexy and dramatic, with mercenaries dashing through the city amidst snipers, sirens, and chaos, ultimately demasking and handing off “the package,” a bottle of the subversive scent.

Opening night: Participant's Lia Gangitano (l), Curator Adriana Farietta (r) with heartthrob Alex Hudson
Opening night: Participant's Lia Gangitano (l), Curator Adriana Farietta (r) with heartthrob Alex Hudson

I don’t really need to mention the haunted houses, meth labs, bodegas and mini cities by Mike Nelson, Jonah Freeman, Justin Lowe, and Christoph Büchel. Nor Carsten Höller’s Revolving Hotel Room in last year’s theanyspacewhatever at the Gugg. Actually, I really named those artists simply to show off how I learned to type the umlaut. I always thought you needed a special keyboard. Anyway, the mimetic environment installation genre is HOT: Envision a subculturally loaded space, often abject, recreate it in another designated space, then add water. I guess I could point to Claes Oldenberg’s Store(1961) as a precedent, though its items were handmade.

House of Cards unfolds in the wake of her institutional debut at PS1 in 2007, where Lisa, an SVA alumna, installed Time Suspended, a kitchen laboratory where hypothetical separatists brewed their subversive perfume, “Revolution.” Both shows used scavenged materials, exemplifying a resourceful “something from nothing” aesthetic. The post-apocalyptic House of Cards is a freegan gesamtkunstwerke. Again, the shanty is built from found objects, including the wheatpasted poster of “Sgt. Guy Debord,” a serendipitous match of guerilla and gallery. Moreover, the stock-styled photographs displayed as sales aids have as their models friends and family members of Lisa and the gallery staff. Her real-life infant son stars as the progeny of the archetypical, focus-grouped young family, who are otherwise pushing strollers around Williamsburg. House of Cards is built from components at Lisa’s fingertips, imbued with overlapping personal connections.

Happy Shanty Family
Happy Shanty Family

One additional layer of coincidental co-identity: if you’re lucky, the sales specialist twisting your arm will be the charming and effective actor, Susan London. She’s a natural, answering any question without pause. The twist is that outside business hours, she actually owns an impressive art collection, with top-tier names to raise your eyebrows.

Now's Your Chance
Now