Thursday, March 27, 2014

“Ritual and Reality” by Yishay Garbasz

In Japanese cartoons, the typical scene of street view around home includes small houses standing along a clean narrow road, green trees growing and a cat running across a wall. This scene appears so constantly that numerous audience’s visual imagination of home have been effected, which includes me.

At first glance, Yishay Garbasz’s installation in Ronald Feldman Gallery presents this familiar scene which is warm. Then a cold desolation struck me-- although the physical environment is complete, certain essential elements are absent: no one is walking on the street, bicycles are lying along the side of road and a traffic light is blinking on yellow. The title-- “Fukushima Nuclear Exclusion” tells why: a tsunami that hit a nuclear power station in Fukushima three years ago leading to a disastrous nuclear leak. People living around the accident fled, leaving behind abandoned towns.

Mass media didn’t follow up the aftermath of this deserted area, but Garbasz went there, recorded the scenes and reappeared the abandoned streets in a straight forward way by combining documentary videos, audios and photos. Local houses, clean roads and vehicles on the screens highlight a sad contradictory: the previous vibrant of this area versus the dead emptiness at this moment. Whatever the reasons were for this event, whether it was economical, political, or an act of nature, viewers’ fundamental emotion as humans are challenged: how to face the desolation of lost?

On the screens, as time pass, the environment is being taken back by nature; maybe in time the pain of people will also fade away.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Caterpillar Logic II

Peter Buggenhout’s two monolith sculptures appear in the white cube of Gladstone Gallery like remnants of ruins. The masses stand several feet higher than its viewers and are covered in a thick layer of black dust like some readymade or artifact untouched for decades.It is difficult to discern what is underneath. One of the sculptures takes up several feet towards the center of the gallery while the other leans against the wall taking up a comparable amount of space. Layers of worn sheet metal, corrugated metal, rods, bars and other construction supports are put together seemingly haphazardly into these abstract forms. Walking around the mass at the center of the gallery what initially appeared to be a pile of detritus is revealed to be constructed and hollow; it's opening featuring one large component, possibly the corner of an enclosure. Its pair also features the effect of a partial room torn in half and supported just foot or two above the ground by the scraps of metal that create the sculpture. The exhibition’s title Caterpillar Logic II is the first semblance of intention to their design but it is unclear how this relates. This could be a hint to the possible origin of the pieces of these constructions, seemingly discarded from our modern era, and the aura of entropy that resonates from the works.

Peter Buggenhout, Caterpillar Logic II
The two installations, titled The Blind leading the Blind #66 and The Blind leading the Blind #67, are the latest in Bubbenhout’s series of the same name, which began in 2008. The title's reference to Pieter Brugel’s genre painting inserts another ambiguous commentary that is either didactic or apathetic. The whole of Bubbenhout’s work seems to anchor along this question of ambiguity. The works are not quite identifiable; they seem to reject any origin.

Peter Buggenhout, Caterpillar Logic II
As the viewer spends time with the work, identifies its parts and attempts to build a logic it seems that the work might be a sort of Smithsonian Non-Site but any affirmation is rejected to the viewer. The only information a viewer can ascertain is that they are viewing some construction of debris, of the unwanted, that it’s coming from somewhere and that it has been forming for a while 

Doug Wheeler at David Zwirner 
February-March 2014

     Museums and galleries are finding surprising ways to combat dwindling attendance.  Because of the convenience of imagery granted us by the internet it is difficult to remember that most art is sensory, inaccessible through a screen.
     It seems that the art world is responding by staging events that can only be seen in person.  This new breed of art event can often be distinguished from the happenings of ages past by the sheer amount of hype surrounding them.  For example, New York City residents and tourists waited in line all day for MoMA's Rain Room without any guarantee that they would make it inside. 
     Retrospectives of James Turrell, Robert Irwin, and Yayoi Kusama offered sensory immersion that dragged art audiences out of their armchairs and into the museums.  We are even seeing the blatant exploitation of fame to increase art viewership with Jay Z's performance of Picasso Baby at Pace Gallery or Tilda Swinton sleeping at the MoMA.
     Upon entering Doug Wheeler's recent installation at David Zwirner Gallery one is plunged into complete disorientation.  The room has been turned into a featureless dome of colored light.  The light creeps up the walls from the perimeter, the only thing upon which the eye can rest.  This horizon-less landscape is hypnotically ambiguous, like an endless tundra.  As my eyes swept forward and back, trying to take hold of something.  I had the sensation that I might be leaning oddly forward but couldn't be sure.  Struggling to find what was vertical I turned toward the chasm-like opening through which I entered.  With this in view, the room became a sort of inverted igloo.  Suddenly I could orient myself and find my way out. 
     All this has been to say that Wheeler's installation seems to be another addition to a larger trend in art.  The luminous cavern created in Zwirner's West 20th street gallery is truly an experience.  An experience which begins with a polite request that one take a seat and wait, continues to the soft white booties viewers are asked to don before entering and ends with the full body immersion into illusion and light.