Thursday, October 24, 2013

Josh Kline's AI : Artificial "I"

Josh kline's AI: Artificial “I”

Josh Kline’s second solo at 47 Canal Quality of Life includes computer-generated  interviews with Kurt Cobain and Whitney Houston, re-appropriated Bank of America branding animations, doped blood in clear acrylic cast iceboxes and IV drips. Without boring the audience with the stereotypical lectures on the malfunctions of technology, Kline's attempt in picturing a dystopian world, addressing age, success and technologic interference, looks solid and effective.

Kline's dark satire gets clearer in the two videos called forever 27 and forever 48, two pieces in which a woman interviews Kurt Cobain and Whitney Huston whose faces are digitally mapped on living actors, as if they are still alive appearing in a TV show manner. The dead celebrities hilarious answers to questions about loneliness, drug use and making money reminds the viewer of  the Warholian notion of 15 minutes of fame. Furthermore, the combination of futuristic corporate drugs commercial ,the cold white lighting of the space, and the frozen boxes of urine on shelves, give the viewer the feeling of  both looking at a real product in a plastic surgery clinic and a glimpse into a sic-fi world.

kline's work is both satirical and ironic. one can not easily comprehend if he is mocking the emerging cult of youth and plastic surgery or is he celebrating the aforementioned. Quality of life confronts the viewer with a hybrid situation, which Kline doesn't seem to be bothered by and is attacking this hybridity from every angle.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The art of shaping the future CENTRAL BOOKING Un/Natural Occurrences

Art and science themed exhibition Un/Natural Occurrences with work by twenty-five artists and collaboratives invites viewers to participate in re-greening the world. The collaboration in this show does not feel contemporary much, but an art book form as a means uniquely arouse the viewer’s insights. Book in nature is both informative and artistic, and its natural presence creates a welcoming and familiar vibe to the viewer. Cluttered works and immense information in a tight setting make the space somewhat like a public library. 

Environmental arts or sustainable arts can be done and shown in such a cliché way, however the gallery presents what artist books can do with unnatural issues in poetic way, philosophical way, and sustainable way naturally. This exhibition involves three players: the scientist, the engineer, and the artist. This creative approach from intimate relations between art and science is truly successful and fulfills its purpose. Another fruitful outcome of this show are the various forms of each artist’s conceptual books. Twenty-five artists have resisted the comfort of single-minded interpretation of what artist book can be in contemporary art world. The show contains many forms of book art such as painting, prints, sculpture, postcard, photo, and video art. Plus, the curator, Maddy Rosenberg is including the work of established artists like Tatana Kellner to emerging artists like Travis Childers. This wide arrangement of artists speaks to the young and the old instead of setting to one side, and it separates Central booking from other galleries in LES.

The works documents not only global such as global warming and nuclear waste, but also local environmental issues like climate change in United States. Susan Goethel Campbell depicts the night views of cities, atmospheric phenomena, and patterns of urbanization in a series of relief prints Aerials. The wood grains in her prints interestingly contrast with geometric cityscapes. The relationship between the natural and unnatural (artificial) she plays in her series of prints seems like subtly portraying the whole theme of the show. Artists can bring humanistic elements into environmental issues and arouse others like science can’t. 

Smells like teen spirit – Josh Kline at 47 Canal

     Entering the gallery 47 Canal, a logo animation over three TV screens welcomes you with the words Forever 21. A familiar face on a TV screen attracts attention: a man with bleached green hair, a tattered button-down shirt, fancy sunglasses on his head and a sea shell hanging around his neck: Kurt Cobain. In the context of Pop culture he embodies grunge music, drugs, sex, youth and death. Like an avatar with pixelated eyes and an artificial pale skin, he is being interviewed on a commercial daily talk show. On the other screen, an interview with Whitney Houston who is glorified as another never aging iconic celebrity is presented. She talks about her death, a topic that causes a disconnect in time, since it is known that she died a year ago.

Installation view "Quality Of Life"

     With a dreaming glance to become a celebrity, we discover intravenous bags hanging on backlit–glass pillars which promises a regeneration through an energy drip including sugar, gasoline and a redbull mix. I think if this piece as a cynical statement that raises ethical questions:  Why do we treat our body like a commodity that has to serve our desires and dreams no matter what it means? How far do we go for just a feeling of youth? Josh Kline brings a topic on the table that seems to become the ultimate goal of our life: to grasp the feeling of youth. Not only masking our age on the surface with clothing, make-up and plastic surgeries are daily routines, but also every commercial for products praise for “physical remedies: exercise, health food, vitamins, and primitive body modification” as a constant reminder of our aging, as Kline states.  

 Kline’s works are visually following a bright color design that we encounter in commercials or high-end stores. With this aesthetic decision, he created a seductive environment for a hybrid perception of what is true and what is only an illusion, of what is present and what is dead. Are we young or old? The art gallery converts into a waiting room of a plastic surgery clinic. Time to leave the gallery before we get trapped by the eye-catching logo animation FOREVER 21 that is over present with a three TV screen length: An analogy that apparently dominates our desires of life.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Josh Klein at 47 Canal

Josh Klein’s show Quality of Life is a Margaret Atwood urban dystopian ode celebrating a chemically “sustained forever 21”.  Although the show is not a sci-fi warning of what is to come if we continue prioritizing youthfulness, but a contemporary commercial space with video, logos, and serums easily believable for today’s consumerism. The gallery, Canal 47, is a generic tenement on the lower east side, unmarked except for the buzzer.   Once inside, the white walls support a laboratory of artificial objects and videos.  Klein uses 3D printers to make heads whose skin is a print of designer fabrics.  There is an energy IV containing a combination of red bull, yerba mate, emergen-C, sugar, spirulina, provigil, and gasoline. This piece is the only one with an element of grime to it. The rest of the pieces have an antiseptic cleanliness.  There is a witty set of four defriending knives presented in a clear lit up box.  There are two looped videos of interviews with an ageless Kurt Cobain at forever 27, and Whitney Houston at forever 48.  Both personas are interviewed as if they never died.  Kurt Cobain is a digitally modified aviator who answers mundane questions about a reclusive life, fame, working at the food coop, not playing music….  What is remarkable about the videos is wherever you fall on the spectrum of an appreciation for video art/digitally rendered imagery to a luddite disapproving of the digital arts, the underlying commentary of the interviews is clear, and make you want to smile and scoff, whether you are impressed with the technology or the irony.  The videos place the highest premium on looking youthful, remaining immortal at your prime.  Klein highlights a collective denial of aging, and a willingness to believe this is possible and preferable.  Klein uses the latest technology to illustrate our preoccupation with youth.  Although the objects and overall installation have a generic clean line packaging, his commentary on a preoccupation of ‘forever 21’   transcends the sense of an available commercial retail.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Valerie Piriano - Photo Play

Lower East Side gallery Cindy Rucker perhaps felt short of photography and play by showing Valerie Piriano, a young emerging artist (MFA from Columbia 2009). Her multi-media installation dealing with nostalgia, memory and domesticity was delicately placed within the gallery walls, and yet one felt as if you have seen this work before.The trend for depilated, abandoned, disarrayed domestic spaces are everywhere,  and Valerie is just one of the many.  For her to stand out from the current trend there must be something new she is bringing to the table or perhaps the usage of materials could bring into light other wise over used content. Her usage of material felt romantic as if it were all more part of decorating the gallery. At first glance her “drawn sculptures” seemed to be charcoal rubbings of some abandon house. However, with further investigation they were photographic transfers placed unto a drywall. By her actions of photographing, digitally changing and then making these reliefs, distance the viewer.  Her theatricality within the room however was impressive. The usage of the columns and the “idea” of domestic space was felt within the gallery. Yet again the artist felt short when she chose the usage of a slide projector with multiple slides within the canister that didn’t move.  The question was what was the purpose of that slide projector? Why did it not project the various slides?  Perhaps the artist wanted us to have those questions but the way it was delivered it felt short. Perhaps not obvious enough. Her touch within each piece was felt and there is a sense of attention to detail that is predominant and that is why one would question these choices. Maybe the gallery didn’t give her the proper projector for these slides or perhaps those “drawn sculptures” were just a new technic she was trying out, yet again she is an emerging artist and hopefully some of these issues will be worked out in the end. Still a great show to look at for creative usage of image and great sense of usage of space and installation.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fragility of witnessing – DEATH OF A CAMERAMAN at apexart

Exploring the fragility of the relationship between image making and its effects, Death of a Cameraman offers a curatorial exploration of such a relation in the case of amateur videos and pictures flooding the web since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011. The idea of the exhibition started when the curator Martin Waldmeier saw a video on YouTube, now displayed on a cellphone at the gallery’s entrance: someone is filming gunfire from a balcony; a sniper locates him and shoots him; the amateur cameraman falls, his cellphone and the image collapse with him.

Featuring five works by Boomberg & Chanarin, Harun Farocki, Rabih Mroué, Hrair Sarkissian and Rudolf Steiner, the exhibition explores the possible annihilation of public when bombarded by recurring images of violence. After recalling the subject to the spectator with the cellphone video, the curator set a space with pictures, followed by a smaller space with two videos and a picture installation. The procession in the gallery allows the viewers to first question and examine still images before being directly involved into video works.

The timing of the show is perfect: with more than two years of conflict in Syria, the public seems to have progressively disengaged, interested more in the morbidity than in the reality of the risk people take by making images of the confrontation. The exhibition is then a way to recall how pictures or videos not only capture a moment; they are also the result of someone’s choice. This is what Mroué explores in Shooting images (2012). The artist uses the deconstruction of images from a literal stance: reenacting the same video that originated the idea of the exhibition, the artist is analyzing the point of view of the cameraman, the gunman and the spectator. Mroué is offering the viewer an occasion to replace oneself in the process of image making as the artist fuses the point of view of the gunman and of the victim by embodying both of them. The confusion leads the spectator to realize the multiple perspectives possible on one image and the power of its interpretation.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Raymond Pettibon at David Zwirner (Revised)

Raymond Pettibon’s show at David Zwirner does not disappoint his fans. He delivers his usual crude, loose, sketch like works on paper bordering on the poetic. Not only does he provide his viewers with a variety of works to help transform the space from gallery to studio, but his bank of image sources is vast, ranging from larger than life male genatalia to baseball games to a crowd watching an explosion in the sky to him asserting with typical sarcasm, “Either you find my work poetic or not.”

Pettibon’s work, especially in this show, shows us just how malleable the artist is, although I’m waiting for the next ‘chapter’ of the artist. Yes, there are no boundaries for Pettibon, but I wonder when the ‘adult-child’ complex will subside and a maturity within the work will unfold. He’s been in this autopilot of sarcastic, sketchbook aesthetics and studioesque installations for a fair amount of time and I wonder if these characteristics are a crutch, if the artist isn’t just quite done with these aesthetics (which is fair enough, the sponge is still dripping) or if he’s tapping out. I do appreciate his art historical references, especially his renderings of the female nude, reminiscent of renaissance painting except here with a ping of boyish immaturity that has been successful within the work, a balance difficult to achieve.

Sonya Blesofsky at Mixed Greens: Renovation

Sonya Blesofsky's exhibition at Mixed Greens, simply titled “Renovation,” focuses on the struggle between preservation and progress that has been waged throughout New York in recent years. Her drawings, vellum sculptures, and installations memorialize architectural details that, due to renovation projects and new construction, are in danger of being replaced and forgotten. At the same time, she attempts to transform the gallery space into something fresh and new.

The most striking feature of Blesofsky's exhibition is the modification of the gallery space itself. Holes (presumably for windows) have been cut out of the gallery walls. White planks (with the wood grain drawn on in pencil) that recall John McCracken's sculptures lean against the walls as if the viewer has interrupted work at a construction site. Part of the surface of an existing pillar has been removed, exposing its previously hidden wooden substructure.

Alongside these alterations, details of older buildings (such as warehouses and brownstones) are presented as drawings and vellum sculptures. Fragments of a brick arch crumble into nothingness. Drawings of stamped tin ceilings line two walls, some of them fresh and white, others black and lost and forgotten. All of these artworks are ghostly reminders of pieces of New York's endangered architectural history. The exhibition as a whole manages to strike a balance between encouraging the preservation of these details and making room for the features that could become tomorrow's antiques.