WATTAGE AND FRIENDSHIP
Mullerdechiara - Berlin
By APRIL ELIZABETH LAMM
Webster’s defines wattage as “an amount of electric power expressed in watts" and a watt as "a unit of power equal to 10 to the 7th degree C.G.S. units of power.”
The very definition of electricity is mind-boggling, and obviously jogging the minds of the twenty-one globetrotting young artists in this show curated by David Hunt.
Andrea Claire's Bill Evans’s Bar: 3 October 2001 Berlin|25 June 1961 New York (2001) blended the recorded noises of the gallery's rowdy October inaugural opening with the sounds of the legendary '60s jazz piano bar, conflating time and space inside a refrigerator fully stocked with beer. Jeffrey Reed's exciting, Orwellian 1984 (2001) was a model stage set for the '80s heavy metal band Motley Crue. Two bottles of Jack Daniel’s supported the black plexiglass stage, whose centerpiece was a reflective devil symbol beneath a chintzy chandelier that illuminated a cocaine outline of the state of Texas.
A night out with the band might end up with a night in J Mayer H.’s hot-pink Heat Seats (2001). Coated with a temperature-sensitive NASA-made material that turns white whenever you sit, the seats display shadows of the unseen. If rock and electronica tire you, then Portuguese artist Joan Onofre's video Instrumental Version (2001), showing an old-fashioned chamber choir singing parts of Kraftwerke's song "The Robots," might be more co your taste. Mick O'Shea's American Palisades (2001) seemed to eerily reflect recent events, although the work was completed before September 11.
Three jumbo jets revolved atop a large wooden American flag, which was surrounded by star-shaped confetti and potted plants and enclosed by a whimsical Popsicle-stick fence. Matt Bakkom’s Bells Into Canon (Reel 1) (2001) used 35-millimeter film stock to fashion a bell-shaped sculpture that, lit from beneath, emitted a golden glow.
The work, playing on the notion that violent movies foster real-life aggression, referred to the old wartime practice of melting down church bells to make cannon balls. Although the show's curatorial statement was a bit light-“some artists are making work that relates co 'wattage,' some…to ‘friendship,’ and others . . . invoke this direct relationship between the two”-the electrifying works on revealed anything but static and lightweight minds.
Caren Golden Fine Art - New York
By RAUL ZAMUDIO
Superimposition is defined in the curatorial statement, quite literally, as "lamination, tiling, compression [using] paint, video, neon...” The show itself consisted of an eclectic array of works by twenty-one artists that nonetheless maintained an overall coherence. Several pieces in the show evinced an astute coupling of conceptual impulses with formally idiosyncratic execution that extended the exhibition into myriad directions.
Jonathan Calm's video, A Place to Live (2001), for example, exploited new technologies without eliding it’s own content, examining one of Modernism’s most cherished structures: the grid. Calm's grid, adapted from the common product bar code, is unlike the pure aestheticized grids of high Modernism. A sign for commodification, his bar code grid morphs into an architectural facade that then segues into a view of the building's interior. Calm's layerings are like a palimpsest, where meaning and materiality adhere and dissolve, leaving an imprint of their contact. It is through this type of metaphorical superimposition that the show becomes visually poetic and intellectually engaging.
Another work that operated at this level, while using different strategies, was Matthew Bakkom's The Insider (200I), based on the recent Hollywood film of the same name. His sculpture is composed of the actual 35 mm celluloid film stock of the movie, fashioned into a vase and placed on a pedestal. As a vessel made from the material of a film about the tobacco industry, the object is open to multiple interpretations: Coptic jars, funeral urns, reliquaries and fetish objects of all sorts are evoked by its demure aura of tasteful tranquility.
Mike Drury’s Nightwood (2001), a work that toyed with simulation via a terrarium-like sculpture embedded in a gallery wall, expanded the theme of layering by inserting itself into the very structure of the “white cube," as if it were a benign landscape. The work's artificiality heightened awareness of the false neutrality of the gallery space, while reminding one that the act of viewing is itself a social interaction, a superimposition of a different sort.