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Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Raging Mad Artists

Posted by on February 7 at 13:17 PM

Ken Johnson’s NYT review today of Thomas Hirshhorn’s furious, political show ended on a note that made me wonder whether any Northwest artists, visual or otherwise, are doing work in this spirit. And if they were, where would they show/appear? He writes:

This is the third major exhibition this season by a male artist throwing everything but the kitchen sink into the gallery without regard for aesthetic niceties. Mike Kelley recently filled Gagosian Gallery with a similarly immersive, albeit conceptually obscure series of theatrical tableaus imitating high school theater productions. And at P.S. 1, John Kessler presented an entertaining, enveloping installation of motorized contraptions and videos focused on protesting the United States involvement in Iraq.

All three shows seem at least partly animated by desperation, as though the artists had been driven into arm-waving frenzies of impotent rage by the inability of traditional art forms to address adequately the terrible and infuriating things that are going on in the world.

Mr. Kelley and Mr. Kessler, at least, appear to have had some fun. In Mr. Hirschhorn's show, a puritanical fervor rules out fun and pleasure. He bullies the viewer and induces a vague, free-floating guilt; he's the art world's Lars von Trier. Few artists have taken so seriously Theodor Adorno's famous admonition that creating poetry should be impossible after the Holocaust. It is scary to think what Mr. Hirschhorn might do next.