I suppose I should be at PS1’s Greater New York congratulating my friend D about his ascension into the ranks of the emerged artist. Instead, I find myself alone with a wretched hangover and a bucket of cynicism. I’m soaking my feet in it to soothe the bitterness that washes over me as I read over the list of artists that have emerged since the 2000 exhibit. The sad thing about this one is that instead of going out and finding artists that haven’t quite emerged, they went looking for people that already had.
Basically the curators pillaged the last Whitney Biennial and the Working in Brooklyn show. What a shame. It’s all in the press release. They decided to show who had emerged since the last one, instead of looking for themselves. So much for curators.
Without having even seen the show, I can already see David Opdyke’s meticulously crafted sculptures next to Dana Schutz’s lush passages of thick paint across the room from Banks Violet and Sue de Beer’s teenage angst ridden rifts. Ah, Opdyke probably deserves to be in the show, but the rest? Schutz was in the last fucking Venice Bienelle, while Violet and de Beer are an entire sub-genre unto themselves that garnered most of the critical attention at the Whitney Biennial. While they obviously represent strains of new art in New York, this is certainly not a show of emerging artists. It’s kind of a lazy, predatory curatorial effort. Well, all I can hope for is that someone writes about D’s work and Peter Caine offends everyone involved. I’ll be organizing an art crawl through it this weekend. I’ll be talking loudly while I work on my map of the commercial representation. Ask for me a sip of whiskey.
Last night between shots of booze and pissing on sidewalks, I did see a few shows that I couldn’t be bothered with last go around. Everyone was all gussied up to woo collectors who dared forsake the Artforum after party for the humble confines of Williamsburg. I started my drunken descent into madness at Schroeder Romero, where I slugged a bottle of white wine in the little hallway gallery while everyone was schmoozing. In the main space, Susan Graham (work pictured) was projecting super-8 films of a parallel universe, mid-western tundra populated by sugar-sculptures of antennas, radio towers, and satellites. The series of varying monochromatic loops are projected onto sheets of Plexi hung from the ceiling. The short compositions are ephemeral and dreamlike spaces that exist on the periphery of vision. You can’t even see the things until you are directly in front of the panes otherwise they drift out of sight like the moments themselves. Apparently, some of the films have already burned out, which I kind of dig. Physically, these films are barely here, already on the edge of fading away. It’s damn poetic, like the baleful photographs of the sets in the second room of the gallery. Here, Graham shows us the place, perhaps, that the films traverse in understated images. The world she creates reminds me of a sci-fi outpost on some bleak, wintry world. Maybe it was the cheap wine, but I got all choked up and had to fight back the tears. Well, not really, but I wanted to feel like that. Feel something, anything. I waded through the sea of gallery goers and walked over to Parker’s Box.
(3 1/2 Greenbergs. Susan Graham’s portal to a parallel universe closes March 28th)
I always go to Parker’s Box because A, I like the two crazies that run the place, and B, they’ve always got the most booze, which they ‘suggest’ you throw in for. Throb, which opened awhile back, and has a really, really big… title. The show is a fairly effective representation of the direction the gallery has taken over the last two years. Mike Roger’s multimedia installation concerns the drum playing of his young neighbor. The weird home theater presentation includes a stereo pumping out the kid’s roaming and unstructured sessions and a LCD monitor running an image of the house and garage where the music originates. Roger’s transforms private creativity, the kind of aimless, egoless work that artists’ pine for, into suburban audio sculpture. Patrick Martinez presents footage of a human body being dissected in millimeter slices on a high-speed loop turning it into a boiling abstraction. The body is reduced to a series of shrinking and expanding organic shapes that edge more into painterly abstraction than scientific analysis. I’ve seen the thing before, and I liked it, but it is still vaguely disturbing. Steven Brower also has a video of his unemployed astronaut climbing a ladder in a simulated vacuum of space. The endless climb sums up of Brower’s cutting cynicism and critique of progress. My personal favorite may very well be Tere Recaren’s video of a makeshift pole-vaulting mat in an alley somewhere in Europe I think. It’s strangely analogous to American backyard wrestling, reeking of the same desperation. Simon Faithfull has a bizarre installation in the back cellar stairs of the gallery, where the degraded video signal of a wireless camera attached to a balloon is on display. The video is shown in a circular black frame in some attempt to convey deep space. Maybe, but I had to stand back so I wouldn’t topple into the thing and get permanently banned from the gallery.
The back space also has a complimentary exhibit of drawings by the artists. I got a kick out of Brower’s drawing of a fat kid contemplating the skeletal lunar lander he built in the gallery last year. I felt like that fat kid, standing there with my beer and insecurity. Recaren’s pen drawings of monkey and panther make a joyous return to the gallery, although without the company of more of them, they look pretty silly. I like the attitude, which seems at odds with Roger’s dutifully rendered basement room. It’d be a good fight between the styles. Martinez also has a series of tiny, stamp-like ballpoint drawings that continue his exploration of the beginnings of the universe. Overall, Throb, sort of throbbed, but not as much as the gigantic title. It deserves an honorable mention as biggest title of the decade. I can’t remember a bigger title anywhere else, er well maybe that hack Eric Fischel’s copperplate font title at Mary Boone Gallery. His isn’t funny though. It just says “Hey, I’m still a big ass!”
(3 Greenbergs. Throb has been… extended through the 27th).
Sweet Jesus, I was fairly wasted as I stormed out into the darkness in search of more beer when I stumbled over to Dam Stuhltrager. Carol Salmanson had built some kind of New Agey light show in the gallery, which I had a hard time squeezing into through the aging crowd. My green wagmag turned from green to brown in the strangely calming patterns of light. The front of the gallery is broken up into planes with long ‘crystals’ of colored lights. Honestly, I started to feel a bit like Superman in Superman II when he gives up his powers for Lois, and becomes human. I didn’t want to get all in touch with my feelings or aura, so I charged into the backspace where Jae-Hi Ahn had populated the walls with resin ‘creatures’ that look like the artist plucked them from some bizarre ocean. The organic, spiny sculptures progressively get smaller as they traverse the gallery walls and descend towards the basement. The colorful creatures were an interesting counterpoint to Salmanson’s fairly serious endeavor, yet I think I preferred Ahn’s playful use of abstraction. It’s really hard to top the good light artists.
(2 1/2 Greenbergs. Luminous Layers and Rubberworms are shimmering and swimming through April 14th)
I don’t remember much about the walk home, but from the looks of most of the revelers at Supreme Trading Company, I’m probably not alone.