I’m back from New York for more than a week and getting ready for new adventures in little Europe. Time to turn a page on the transcontinental trip by throwing in a couple of posts the best exhibitions i saw while i was in Manhattan. Some of them are still up till the end of the month, others have already closed their doors. Here we go…
In the collective exhibition AMERIKA: Back to the Future, David Herbert, Anthony Goicolea, Marcus Kenney, Jennifer and Kevin McCoy play with American icons. The artists vision is somewhat dark, critical (how could it not be) but often humorous. Starship Enterprise is re-visited by future cavemen, Mickey Mouse goes on a size-zero diet and a burnt-down chain retailer’s suburban storefront aimlessly rotates on a plate.
Marcus Kenney, The First Americans, 2006
My favourite by far were Marcus Kenney’s assemblage of discarded and old magazine clippings, book illustrations, old receipts, stamps, wallpaper etc. to create nostalgic imagery dealing with contemporary issues. The stars of his compositions are weird children, young women setting foot on distant planets or a girl walking on crutches painted with the motifs of the U.S. flag, etc. A closer look reveal the figures of U.S. presidents and American natives. The colourful and (at first sight) cheerful collages are hinting at some of the pages of American history which do not tend to make its citizens very proud.
Marcus Kenney, Like a Good Neighbor, 2008
I walked to the edge of the art Chelsea area to see Actus Reus, Tamara Kostianovsky‘s solo show. Ready to be butchered beef carcasses were hanging on hooks. Disturbing and so “life”-like that the gallery almost smelled of meat, the animals were made out of discarded human clothes.
Actus Reus is the second part of The Proper Animal, a three-part multidisciplinary program comprised of three solo exhibitions by artists who utilize sometimes disturbing animal iconography to bring ethical considerations into play. The next episode, a show by Julian Montague, looks equally fascinating and as it will focus on spiders i suspect it will be equally repulsive as well.
I got to discover the work of Dutch collective Antistrot by chance. I was in the building where they are having a solo exhibition to see another show. I happened to take the wrong corridor and enter the wrong gallery. That was for the best. Wild and powerful styles manage to cohabit almost peacefully on Antistrot’s paintings: animals you’d see on the walls of your favourite city, gangster faces you encounter mostly in fanzines, monsters like you’d get in a fairy tale without happy ending and busty girls being well… mostly very busty.
Ich Möchte Fliegen Können, 2008
Current members of Antistrot are Paul Börchers, David Elshout, Johan Kleinjan, Silas Schletterer, Michiel Walrave and Bruno Ferro Xavier da Silva, with additional help from Charlie Dronkers.
Shot in coastal waters and regions as far apart on every aspect as Australia, Japan, Antarctica, Kuwait, Iraq and California, An-My Lê‘s photographs examine intersecting themes of scientific exploration, military power, environmental crises, fantasies of empire and the vast ungovernable oceans that connect nations and continents.
An-My Lê, Target Practice, USS Peleliu, 2005
An-My Lê, Oden, Swedish Ice Breaker, McMurdo, Antarctica, 2008
Although the themes and settings are deeply grounded into reality, the images give an eerie feeling. The structures, military equipment, boats and landscapes captured by the photographer seem almost too big and out of this world to be true.
Shuli Hallak‘s photographs document cargo in its state of transit between production and consumption. Almost every manufactured product humans consume spends time in a shipping container, yet most of us have little clue about the process by which goods are actually transported.
New York Container Terminal, 4, 2005
Fascinated by cargos, the photographer embarked on a container ship in New York and traveled to Florida, crossed the Panama Canal and ended the journey in Guayaquil, Ecuador to pick up some bananas.
CSAV Chicago, 2005