lundi 11 février 2008

Rewind 2007: Just kick it till it breaks (The Kitchen, New York)

Corey McCorkleble, Perfectionist (Free Love) Monument, 2007, steel, copper, nickel, and silver

Gardar Eide Einarsson, Untitled (LA Commissioner) (detail), 2006, ink jet prints

The Kitchen, New York
curated by Debra Singer and Matthew Lyons.
In response to a moment in America marked by tepid civic activism, widespread conservatism, and rampant consumerism, the artists in this exhibition create works in which the "political" is addressed indirectly through allegorical approaches and subtle contextual displacements. Borrowing visual idioms from the realms of advertising, the media, and interior design, these artists locate tangential points of protest that are slyly complicit with the terms of capitalism they often seek to undermine. At the same time, they investigate romanticized notions of outlaw culture and underground movements, questioning whether any position of political resistance remains out of reach of commercial co-optation.

Fia Backström, Carol Bove, Bozidar Brazda, Gardar Eide Einarsson, Adam Helms, Scott Hug, Corey McCorkle, Josephine Meckseper, Michael Phelan, Meredyth Sparks

Holland Cotter (New York Times):
This group show, organized by Debra Singer and Matthew Lyons of the Kitchen, is a textbook example of how political content operates in new art: in a slanting, unmonumental, coding-within-coding way that dodges ideology and trades earnestness for agile, deadpan wit. References to past alternative cultures are frequent, but rarely nostalgic. Josephine Meckseper’s video “Rest in Peace” intercuts images of recent antiwar protests with an orgy scene from a 1960s hippie-lifestyle film, with shots of what appears to be a college discussion group attended by bored and fidgety students. Everthing feels retro. Heroism is over. So is the vision thing. Corey McCorkle spreads 19th-century broadsides, produced by the utopian Oneida Colony, on the gallery floor. They look as if they should go under a kitty litter box. Meredyth Sparks cut-and-pastes pictures of the Bader-Meinhof gang. Carol Bove revisits a druggy moment when Beat and Hippie merged. From Scott Hug we get Warholian mug shots of low-grade celebrities (Paris Hilton, Mike Tyson), from Bozidar Brazda a souvenir of “The Unknown Ones,” a punchy East German punk band that will probably stay unknown. A tie-dye sunburst mandala by Michael Phelan is also a Color Field painting, a target and an American flag. Two neat but busy installations by Fia Backstrom are like consumerist processors, shmushing together corporate logos, out-of-date manifestos, designer tableware, art by other artists — namely Roe Ethridge and Kelley Walker — and Play-Doh imitations of their art. In this context of scrambled values Adam Helms’s drawings of heads in black ski masks are mere terrorist chic, Gardar Eide Einarsson’s “Liberty or Death” flag a snazzy bath towel. High up in a corner hangs a text piece by Dave McKenzie: “Tomorrow Will Be Better.” If artists can just keep savaging history, kicking forms and fracturing received ideas, it might least might not be worse.

Miguel Amado (Artforum):
Josephine Meckseper’s Rest in Peace, 2004, the first work one encounters in this exhibition, sets the tone for the entire show. The video mixes footage of recent political demonstrations in New York with flower power–style party scenes, all complemented by a sound track drawn from urban music genres. This and other pieces brought together by curators Debra Singer and Matthew Lyons offer an allegorical reading of the current ideological landscape and limn various methods of resistance to dominant values. A critique of the materialism that characterizes our global economy pervades the project. One continually pertinent topic addressed by the selected artists is the process of fetishization undergirding advanced capitalist societies, by which any countercultural thinking, action, or object is seamlessly absorbed by the market. Fia Backström's elegant installations examine this process intelligently: For example, RECYCLE—Hanging proposal for “Untitled” (2006), Sculpture by Kelley Walker (Ecco Art #2), 2007, consists of a delicate arrangement of pillows, dishes, plastic cutlery, and other picnic items placed alongside Walker’s piece atop a small green carpet and in front of a large wall banner decorated with the logo of the oil company BP. Corey McCorkle's sculptures The Circular, 2007, and Perfectionist (Free Love) Monument, 2007, on the other hand, allude to the Oneida Community, a nineteenth-century utopian group based in New York State that advocated pacifism yet manufactured animal traps for subsistence. Emphasizing a metaphoric approach to the theme, the exhibition deftly sidesteps the charge of proselytizing against the current state of affairs. Instead, the show offers poetic visions of politics that, in highlighting how individuals change things through quotidian acts, may describe the only form of activism that can make a difference now.

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