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Friday, August 11, 2006

Subterranean Monuments, Bikini Carwashes

Posted by on August 11 at 10:44 AM

At least if Ken Johnson is transferring his visceral descriptions and levelheaded complaints over to the Boston Globe, we still have Cotter and Roberta Smith covering New York art for the Gray Lady.

A couple of thoughtful moments from Cotter today on shows I wish I could go to this weekend—Subterranean Monuments: Burkhardt, Johnson, Hujar at Vassar:

Hujar, who died of AIDS in 1987, his work unknown except to small following, brought to all of this a tender gravity and intimacy, a freshly conceived politics of beauty. In his underworld, art wasn’t what you made, it was what you were. And what he and many of his sitters, friends and lovers were was a population apart from the great, big American world, including the American art world. Whether or not apartness is a choice — for Hujar, Johnson and Burckhardt it probably wasn’t — it can be an achievement, even a victory. That is one of the gifts art gives. It is not small.

And The Social History of Objects at Triple Candie):

At present, in some quarters of the art world, there’s a push to circle back to a pre-Conceptualist state, in which paintings and sculptures are art, and everything else is not. In this view the Duchampian ready-made is anathema. So it makes sense that an against-the-grain space like Triple Candie is offering a group show entirely of ready-mades. It is also a show without a curatorial “eye,ā€¯ and made up of both artists and nonartists. A news release lists among the participants “the reverend of the oldest church in Harlem, the deputy director of a major New York museum, a scholar who is also the daughter of two prominent civil rights activists, and a Harlem-based architectural historian and city planner.ā€¯

Now for something you can actually see. Last night’s opening at Lawrimore Project was an eye-opener even for those who attended SuttonBeresCuller’s installation there, because the main room of the gallery is no longer full of a Chinese restaurant. And what an amazing room it is: high ceilings, sandstone-like backerboard wall panels, skylights, old battered poles.

The crackling show, This Is Gallery, is Lawrimore’s preview of what’s to come: many of these artists will have solo shows here in the coming years. There’s sculpture, photography, installation, video—and three little sort-of paintings all the way in the back, by New Mexican artist Claudia X. Valdes. Arizona artist Liz Cohen’s bikini carwash video is uncomfortable in a way that makes Vanessa Beecroft’s nude women in heels look like feminist icons, and is perfectly paired with Cris Bruch’s pink string wall hives. New Yorker Alex Bag’s hysterical super-camp video links to Seattle photographer Anne Mathern’s repulsive young woman in a formal dining room, and both tie to Cindy Sherman’s Lucille Ball. Lead Pencil Studio and Bruch might be seen as cohorts for their meticulous structures, but LPS makes extroverted forms and Bruch’s are introverts. Sabrina Raaf (Chicago) stages large sci-fi portraits of women whose bodies are being altered and experimented with in some hideous future full of bright, sterile, private environments. Seattle artist Tivon Rice’s life-sized, low-mounted video-sound installation of a dog’s vicious teeth as he sleeps is a tense, alluring piece, as are Charles LaBelle’s throbbing reversed images of seedy California motels.

Here are some images to chew on.

Sabrina Raaf’s Fat Drain (only the left image is at Lawrimore)


Tivon Rice’s Osteotomy (an operation in which bone is cut through)


From Liz Cohen’s Bikini Carwash series


Lawrimore Project is open today and Saturday, 11-6 pm.

Nearby, check out SOIL’s new shows, Exploded Views and Chauney Peck: How Does Grass Grow? I’ve only seen them through the window so far, but the buzz is good on both.

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Artists who don't make their own word are assholes. The only real art is a roomfull of grannies sewing quilts. All the rest is just pretentious, conceptual bullshit.

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