Thursday, July 15, 2010

Greater New York

Apparently every five years PS1, MoMA's converted-school extension in Long Island City, has a huge group show featuring local artists. Third time, as they say, makes it tradition. One of the biggest contradictions of having a "local artists" show in this city is that most of the artists will be either immigrants or part-time residents. Perhaps the joke is that the entire world is really Greater New York.

PS1 is disorienting. It's nice to have another context besides Art to see art in, but the elementary school vibes throw things weirdly and I always feel like I'm missing something. But hey, it's one of those "pay what you want" places, so the only thing you have to lose is your time and maybe a buck.

Okay, so the worst thing is that there's too much video in this show. Video is by nature a selfish medium, not only because it demands time but because it requires technological support. I thought I would feel more envy of the artists included and wonder why I wasn't included, or wonder why I wasn't curating. I felt a twinge when I saw that one of the videos included someone I knew in college, but I didn't feel any of that envy at the show, because I wouldn't want to be the person who had made or chosen these things. I hate cool people.

This is the retrospective room.

It became one of those "find a redeeming thing" games. Individually most of the pieces had something going for them, or, at least, those that weren't goofy videos. If there isn't something funny about art, if there isn't a joke to "get" or "buy" about it, I tend to skim over it, maybe just because I'm biased against romanticism and transcendence. Then again, maybe this show could use some transcendence. Artists are perverts. The walls were full of glory holes. At all levels, for all sizes and shapes of perverts! The whole thing is a dirty joke and the biggest influence on my entire generation has been internet porn. But maybe that's just me?

DETEXT was an installation that shaped the show. I only later found out that DETEXT had removed the "con" from what it was doing, intentionally, and that all the phrases in giant letters in hallways were excerpted from spam messages. The museum has 4 levels (0, 1, 2, 3) and it seemed like the level of innuendo in the phrases corresponded with the levels.

Here are some things I liked:
Tommy Hartung is good conceptually but I get the feeling he outsources the craft. Some drawings a friend did for him weren't very crafty, either.

Michele Abeles's photography

Ishmael Randall Weeks had a very scientific feel.
Nearby on the second floor, and whose label I couldn't find (making them all the more confusing) were a couple of museum-style stands with bits of archaeological-looking artifacts in them, but all pretty obviously made out of contemporary cheap materials. The artifacts were mostly fimo clay.
Everything by the Atlas of Radical Cartography in a third floor hallway also had a research feel that fit very well in the school building. I particularly remember copies of maps with "latino" and "america" labeling two general (and reversed) areas of the Americas which had been given to people crossing the Mexico-U.S. border and undergone evident wear. There were "maps" there with significant research behind them that remind me of how awesome Jen Dalton is.

Ashley Hunt: "The rich can be rich because they got tired of being poor." That reminds me. If you haven't been listening to David Byrne's Here Lies Love you should.

This is going to look really dated in 5 years, Debo Eilers. There's nothing wrong with that.

Brody Condon's video of a smurf tribe finally makes that wooden sculpture outside the Hamburger Banhof make sense.

An artist with the hip-as-dick name Liz Magic Laser displayed her purse taken apart by a surgery and dissection robot, the "Da Vinci System".

Hank Willis Thomas's isolation of depictions of blacks in mainstream magazine ads filled a room and held our attention for way longer than anything else. If nothing else it showed that progress is never continuous and always double-edged at least.

David Brooks is a rainforest conservationist.

Some of the only painting featured included Dave Miko and Leidy Churchman, whose "Three Beards" reassures me that there is nothing more macho than two cocks in your ass.

The Bruce High Quality Foundation can always be relied upon to be sickeningly hip, filling one room with artists' genitals and another with a pedestal exchange program, "Perpetual Monument to Students of Art", in which clean sculpture pedestals are substituted for used ones from local schools throughout the show. It sort of looks like the holocaust memorial in Berlin. Anyone who's done gallery installation will like stuff like that. All the jack-off-in-a-box glory hole installation elements, not so much.

Aki Sakamoto's "skewed lies / Central Governor" had a great steampunk, participatory mood and kept the basement feeling like a paranoid secret center of operations we children had illicitly discovered. Also there was goldleaf.
And uniforms:

My date said "I feel like my time has been raped".

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