lundi 10 mars 2008

A new high in getting low (John Connelly, New York)

assume vivid astro focus, Tamy Ben-Tor, Marco Boggio-Sella, Tom Burr, Brian Clifton, Peter Coffin, Anne Collier, Donnie & Travis, Jeronimo Elespe, Dana Frankfort, Jonah Freeman, Sam Gordon, Wade Guyton, Tamar Halpern, Kent Henricksen, Matthew Higgs, Scott Hug, Daniel Lefcourt, Legion, Justin Lowe, Keith Mayerson, Kenric McDowell, Dave McKenzie, Sean Paul, Michael Phelan, Alexandre Singh, Patricia Treib, Justin Samson, Nolan Simon, Joshua Smith, Meredyth Sparks, A.L. Steiner, Dannielle Tegeder, Sara VanDerBeek, Michael Wetzel, Grant Worth

A New High In Getting Low (NYC) is an expanded version of an exhibition that was first shown at Artnews Projects in Berlin in October 2007. All the artists in both exhibitions are NYC based and there is no singular theme except for the criteria of living andworking in New York post 9/11. Most of the works share a dark subtext that could be construed as something related to the paranoia, denial and mania that has absorbed the city for the last six years. There have been many dramatic shifts in New York (and the New York art world) since the fall of 2001, and many of these artworks can be read as a reaction to these changes. The choice of the title "A New High In Getting Low" (itself a corrupted version of the name of one of the artworks in the show) references not only an ongoing dialog between the polarities of high and low art, but also the cultural and social highs and lows that find a convenient metaphor in popular drug culture. The terminology can also opportunely be applied to the current American political and economic realities. For example, the current international perception of the United States has arguably reached an all-time low, the value of the dollar abroad continues to fall and the instability in the national economy has almost daily reverberations worldwide. This exhibition in many ways offers a glimpse into a contemporary cultural climate feeling the after effects of unprecedented dramatic political and economic shifts in America.

Art made in New York since 9/11 is the theme, or rather the mood, of this 36-artist group show (an expanded version of an exhibition at the Berlin gallery Artnews Projects in October 2007). With oblique references to the economy and to drug culture, the title suggests a citywide diagnosis of post-traumatic stress or even a kind of manic depression. At one end of the spectrum is Matthew Higgs’s framed book page reading “Late 20th Century Art”; at the other is Sam Gordon’s “24 Hours in New York (The Lost Kinetic World, Volumes 1-12)” (2005-7), a day’s worth of video footage of local artists and art world personalities. A few paintings stand out from the glut of appropriation, assemblage and mixed-media works. Keith Mayerson’s painting “9/11” (2007) renders the smoke from the burning towers in a cloying Impressionist palette. Daniel Lefcourt’s abstract acrylics-on-board resemble blacked-out lines of text from government documents. Jeronimo Elespe’s small oil portrait of a dark-haired boy in a navy anorak has an unsettling, vaguely memorial aspect. Resurrected Pop describes the work of Tom Burr, who makes the homoerotic subtext of Warhol’s “13 Most Wanted Men” fully explicit, and that of Scott Hug, whose “JFK” (2007) pairs a black mirror with a photograph of President Kennedy in dark sunglasses. One is celebratory, the other mournful; both feel current.

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