Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Sweet Spot: Peter Nadin's Bootleg Buying Club

Peter Nadin, The Bo'sun's Chair, 2011. Fifty-seven hemlock logs, terracotta, wood, string, nutria fur, wax, fabric, indigo pigment, bronze and galvanized nails ranging from 60 to 122 inches high, in Peter Nadin, "First Mark," at Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York, through July 30, 2011.

Peter Nadin, Raft, 2011. Honey, terracotta, wood, twine, bank run, wax and ham, 288 x 288 x 9 1/2 in.

Eggs, honey, and maple syrup are just part of the bounty, from the Old Field Farm, in Cornwallville, New York, which is available at GBE and poorly photographed here.

After a brief break, necessitated by its food-free Nate Lowman exhibition "Trash Landing," Gavin Brown's enterprise once again has a commissary. In the gallery's rear kitchen, in which Rirkrit Tiravanija operated a soup kitchen back in March, artist Peter Nadin has set up what he terms a "Bootleg Buying Club," a miniature market that sells goods from his 150-acre Old Field Farm, in Cornwallville, New York. A soup kitchen it is not. Instead it's artisanal and luxurious and just slightly tinged with nostalgia: contemporary Brooklyn as captured by the New York Times Dining section, which has already taken note. (As Paddy Johnson points out, Nadin is a press magnet.)

Nadin's gourmet heaven stocks pork rillettes and eggs, fine herbs and maple syrup, as well as jars of bright amber-colored honey, which seem likely to be popular with visitors given that three tons of that relatively pungent ingredient are sitting in the adjoining room, serving as a foundation of sorts for his Raft (2011) sculpture. (Interestingly, Nadin did not use Old Field Farm honey for the piece, though he did use local honey, purchased from a nearby county.) I couldn't resist buying a small jar on opening night, moved, in part, by the idea that I would go home and make John Cage cookies using Peter Nadin honey. (Wild, I know.) Of course, I stupidly forgot one of the cornerstone principles of Cage's macrobiotic regime: "Honey is sugar; don't use it." Regardless, it's great when slathered on English muffins or melted into tea.

Tiravanija's installation-heavy show manages to look somewhat restrained when compared with Nadin's offerings, which include not only 6,000 pounds of honey but also a forest of 57 towering hemlock trees and a suite of huge paintings rubbed with materials like wax, honey, and black walnut — bombastic updates, perhaps, on Ed Ruscha's Stains (1969). Witnessing all of this, it's hard not to wonder how smaller, quieter, more intimate shows will feel in Brown's year-old space.

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