Among the areas of West Chelsea hardest hit when Hurricane Sandy slammed into New York at the end of October was West 27th Street, between 11th and 12th Avenues, which is home to five contemporary art galleries. Thankfully, all five—Wallspace, Foxy Production, Derek Eller, Jeff Bailey and Winkleman—have repaired their spaces and are reopening on Saturday, Jan. 12.
FOR THE TEXAN collaborative team of Jeff Shore and Jon Fisher, the camera obscura has been displaced as a metaphor by a surveillance-state Moebius strip. Everything is exposed for peering at, but there is no outside from which to peer in. Their new installation Trailer, currently biding its time in Derek Eller Gallery, consists of five ceiling-mounted projectors throwing five blank, digitally pixelated rectangles, each tinted a different color, onto or beside five groups of 17 wall-mounted plywood boxes, six power strips, and innumerable wires, caps, circuits and LED lights. The wires, whose elegant parallels and polite crossings bring to mind a schematic subway map, lead up the walls and across the ceiling to a secret control room in the back.
MONDAY, APRIL 23
Screening: Bjarne Melgaard Interviews Leo Bersani, at the Kitchen
The indefatigable Norwegian painter Bjarne Melgaard recorded this interview about homosexuality and politics with cultural critic Leo Bersani for his appearance at the 2011 Venice Biennale. What starts out as a “Charlie Rose–like encounter”—to borrow John Kelsey’s description of the piece in Artforum—involves “Melgaard… making digital cocks sprout out of his and Bersani’s on-screen bodies, splattering the video with lewd, orgasmic cybergraffiti, and interrupting the conversation with lowbrow bursts of dated MTV…” And that’s just the start of it. This is the film’s U.S. debut. —Andrew Russeth
The Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street, New York, 7 p.m.
What united the paintings, drawings, sculpture, and collage of the recent Whiting Tennis show at Derek Eller Gallery was a kind of capillary motion. A step-by-step, fire-brigade method for building mass and covering space, it looked something like a rigorous materialism put in the service of an off-camera but serenely confident faith.
Blue Cactus is a five and a half foot tall acrylic and collage portrait of a highly abstracted, three-branched, denim-colored figure resting on tiny brown sofa legs. The sky behind it is painted in short, jutting, overlapping strokes of gray and blue, all of which could pass for both patches of sky and patches of sky between clouds; the ground beneath it in sharper-edged panels of brown and tan that recede dramatically upward with a jocular Cubist exaggeration; and the cactus itself in white-speckled blue geometric sections that only become figurative in concert with one another.
Making a painting requires faith. Think of a balloon: you don’t have to believe that it expresses truth or will improve the world, but the simple act of blowing it up implies, at least, the hope that it won’t break before you’re done. It’s a faith in the possibility of coherence—seductive, arguably false, and easily punctured with a pencil. Under the membrane, you’ll find innumerable perceptual facts, colliding but unrelated, forming a shifting, radically incoherent terrain. Two very different attempts to capture this chilly, honest world went on view last week in Chelsea.