Thursday, July 7, 2011
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. Photos: 16 Miles [more]
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.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Installation views of Rirkrit Tiravanija, FEAR EATS THE SOUL, at Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York, March 5, 2011. Photos: 16 Miles [more]
The smell of leek soup wafted through the galleries. The crowd waited. What would be served?
"Whatever this is, it isn't relational aesthetics," a friend said to me in a giddy tone at the opening of Rirkrit Tiravanija's new show at Gavin Brown's enterprise on March 5. She was sipping warm soup — a hearty chicken base blessed with a trove of butter-soft leeks — from one hand and holding an ice-cold bottle of Rolling Rock in the other. Many of the few hundred other people gathered inside the cavernous gallery were doing the same, and the luckiest ones, who had arrived early, were finishing off hearty sandwiches, thick baguette slices filled with pulled pork and sweet pickles.
Cock-a-leekie soup cooking on the enterprise stove, sweet pickles at the ready. Tiravanija's weekly soup recipes are available at soupnosoup.com.
It has been more than two decades since Tiravanija first served food for free in an art gallery (at the Paula Allen Gallery in New York, which also offered Rolling Rock, because the gallerist happened to be able to get a discount on it) and roughly 15 years since French curator Nicolas Bourriaud coined the term relational aesthetics to categorize art practices like Tiravanija's. As my friend's comment indicated, Bourriaud's theory has come to seem quaint and outmoded since then. Artworks encompassed by — or, in the worst cases, designed to illustrate — the theory have proved boring, as Joe Scanlan has argued, and their supposed political efficacy has been disputed by art historian Claire Bishop in her 2004 essay "Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics."
Nevertheless, there was an unmistakable thrill in the air on opening night. Tiravanija, sporting his trademark rose–colored glasses, wandered back and forth between the gallery and the kitchen, supervising the production of the soup, which was addictive and delicious. Each time he changed locations, he had to wander back out onto the street, since the doors from the kitchen to the gallery (and from the front reception area to the gallery) are walled off with thick cinder blocks. The exhibition space's doors and windows have been removed, leaving it completely open to the street. On the gallery walls, a message has been spray–painted in black: "FEAR EATS THE SOUL."
Meat, pickles, baguettes: the feast begins.
The transformed space looks like an abandoned warehouse, not so different from those that once existed along the Hudson River just a few years away, which Gordon Matta-Clark documented and detourned in the 1970s. Tiravanija has been more welcoming in past exhibitions, offering continuous access to a model of his East Village apartment at a 1999 exhibition at the enterprise (people are rumored to have had group sex there, Jerry Saltz reported later) and presenting a reconstruction of his home in Thailand for a 2009 show in Madrid. This time he has built a life-size replica of Brown's former gallery space on Broome Street and a fully operational T-shirt shop, in which employees screen shirts on-demand. The shirts are available in three sizes, printed with one of 24 different slogans (e.g. "NOBODY KNOWS I AM A LESBIAN" or "NO NO AMERICA"), for $20.
Tiravanija's T-shirt factory: 24 slogans available at $20 a pop
The shared "microtopian" communities that Bourriaud believed were created in Tiravanija's works, which Bishop characterizes in her essay as "feel-good" constructions, are perversely and joyfully parodied in "FEAR EATS THE SOUL." The only two enclosed, hospitable spaces, after all, are a model of a commercial art gallery and what amounts to a souvenir shop. The gallery may be open to the public 24 hours a day, but the only places you will want to spend time are where something is available for consumption. (The T-shirt shop and soup kitchen are open Thursday through Saturday, 10 am to 6 pm, through April 16.) There are other uncomfortable truths embedded in Tiravanija's practice, like the fact that the hearty bowl of soup arrives only due to the munificence of an established art dealer, and that those who actually need a bowl of soup will almost certainly not happen upon, or even hear about the exhibition, as Bishop has emphasized.
Tiravanija is surely aware of these issues, which give lend his works a fragile sense of existence dashed with melancholy, a feeling that is underscored by the sheer transience of the event: the reality that, while we can return to our favorite painting at the Met again and again for hours at a time, the few minutes shared with friends over a bowl of soup will happen only once, and then exist only as a memory. Tiravanija has organized a Trojan horse of an exhibition, an ostensibly celebratory meal that morphs into something darker, or at least sadder, once he gets you thinking.
Outside the plywood T-shirt studio and art gallery, people gazed in at the chrome
The full neon sign, not legible here, reads "NOSOUP." Only the last four letters were illuminated once the soup started flowing.
Brendan Fowler in the Spare Room at West Street Gallery
A few blocks away, Brendan Fowler unveiled new works from his already-classic frame-through-frame series in West Street Gallery's Spare Room. Instead of his typical subjects — concert posters and photographs — he's hung purple monochromes, and they are the best of the bunch.
Dan Friel performing at the Calder Foundation's "Maybe I should have called it 'My Life in Nineteen Minutes,'" 74 Pine Street, New York, March 5, 2011. [more]
Later that evening, at 74 Pine Street, some visitors had the chance to see Courtney Love wandering around another abandoned warehouse space (she dashed past me as I entered), this one commandeered by the Calder Foundation for a 12-hour exhibition conceived by Victoria Brooks that was titled "Maybe I should have called it 'My Life in Nineteen Minutes,'" which featured a formidable lineup of performances and films, including works by Mika Tajima, Hans Richter, Yves Klein, Dara Birnbaum, and Calder. There were art objects, too, like a luscious Holton Rower floor piece, below — thin waves of paint piling up into a pitch-perfect mash-up of Jim Lambie and Lynda Benglis. Parts & Labor member Dan Friel was playing a solo set when I arrived, carefully leading a gigantic noise-orchestra — actually a large bank of controls perched on his lap — through a series of static–laced pop instrumentals.
Holton Rower, Pour 03052011, 2011, at the Calder Foundation's "Maybe I should have called it 'My Life in Nineteen Minutes,'" 74 Pine Street, New York, March 5, 2011. [more]
Black Dice performing as part of their residency at Secret Project Robot, Brooklyn, New York, morning of March 6, 2011.
Across the East River, at the performance space/gallery/residence Secret Project Robot in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Black Dice concluded their week-long miniature residency with a barn-burner of a set that was even louder than Friel's cacophonous display had been an hour earlier. In 2002, curator Bob Nickas described the group as "the New York art world's favorite band at the moment." (Who holds that title now? Kalup Linzy and James Franco? Patti Smith?) The fickle crowd may have moved on to other bands in the past nine years, but the group has lost none of its brio, playing new, vaguely funky noise songs from behind their tables of equipment for a solid hour, as gorgeous abstract projections by Danny Perez spilled over them.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Mark Leckey, GreenScreenRefrigeratorAction, October 30, 2010, at Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York. Photos: 16 Miles
Mark Leckey, Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, 1999
"Described by one commentator as the best thing they'd ever seen in a gallery, Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore is an extended paean to the unadulterated bliss of nocturnal abandon. ... While obviously celebratory, Fiorucci is ultimately concerned with a collective loss of innocence; its subtext, an examination of the ritualistic behavior of heterosexuals on the threshold of adulthood."
Monday, August 9, 2010
Installation view of Martin Creed's marble floor at Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York. Photos: 16 Miles [more]
When artist Martin Creed has an idea for a work of art, he reuses it for a long stretch. He has been making roughly the same painting for years, and has been installing a large neon piece, which reads “EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT,” in a number of different locations for more than a decade. (It’s installed on the façade of the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art right now.) This celebration of repetition is at the core of his process (he numbers all of his works and provides an ordered, albeit incomplete, list of them on his Web site). It is also one of the reasons that Creed is so easy to caricature and dislike.
The latest idea that Creed is milking vigorously is a marble floor-installation that he completed earlier this year at Gavin Brown’s enterprise in New York. The gallery’s floor was covered in thick sheets of marble in a variety of different colors, sourced from around the world. (I happened to be walking by the space on the day that workers were removing it: see below.)
Workers removing Martin Creed's marble floor at Gavin Brown's enterprise
Now, as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival, scores of types of marble will be applied to the Scotsman Steps — a tall, lengthy stairwell that connects Old Town and New Town in Edinburgh. The site-specific installation, financed in part by the Scottish government, had not been completed when I visited the city last week, reportedly because the steps are part of a larger reconstruction project that is behind schedule. (However, a very attractive rendering of Creed's steps is available.)
A sign at the top of the Scotsman Steps, Edinburgh
Writing in the Guardian last week about his own visit to Edinburgh, art critic Jonathan Jones shared: “As I walk up the Scotsman Steps, a neglected walkway rising from central Edinburgh to the Old Town, I notice a trickle of urine slowly heading in the opposite direction.” There were little puddles of urine when I visited as well, which leads to the question: How long will it be before someone urinates on Creed’s luxurious marble steps as a work of art, as when David Hammons urinated on Richard Serra’s T.W.U. (1980) in downtown Manhattan for a piece he titled Pissed Off (1981)? First, of course, the work will need to be completed.
The topmost set of stairs of the Scotsman Steps
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Installation views of Martin Creed at Gavin Brown's enterprise. Photos: 16 Miles [more]
You may have heard about what is happening on this screen to the right. Unfortunately, I cannot say here, in the interest of keeping this a family-friendly site.
Gavin Brown's enterprise
601 Washington Street
Through June 19, 2010
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Installation views of Jonathan Horowitz, "Go Vegan!" at Gavin Brown's enterprise. Photos: 16 Miles [more]
Gavin Brown's new gallery still smells like its former occupant, Pat LaFrieda Wholesale Meat Purveyors (the famous supplier of meat for Shake Shack and Minetta Tavern). Ammonia, bleach, and minute hints of animal carcass waft through the old meat lockers, where Jonathan Horowitz has recreated his 2002 Greene Naftali show "Go Vegan!"
In the most brutal section of the show, Horowitz displays a meat hook and a video of a pig being slaughtered. Elsewhere, the artist has included more light-hearted propaganda, like pro-vegetarianism quotations from Linda and Paul McCartney and Albert Einstein, a funny Norman Rockwell image splattered with the words "AMERICAN GOTHIC," and adorable photographs of farm animals with their names spelled out in a font that appears constructed out of pieces of wood: "lamb," "poultry," etc.
The posters outside are a little bit didactic, but Horowitz's general playfulness — the McCartney quotation, the cute photos, and the other charming poster (the third photograph below) — suggests that he's aware that aggressive agitprop won't win his cause many converts. However, providing delicious salad and coconut juice in room filled with the luscious smell of burning sage — a welcome contrast to the putrid mix of chemicals and meat in the other rooms — just might make a few people consider the eating style. I was convinced, at least temporarily.
It's unclear how long Brown plans to keep the meat plant installed ("I don’t want to be doing meat-cooler shows for the rest of my life," he tells Miranda Siegel). Whether he keeps it or tears it out, though, he is going to have an absurd amount of space available.
Jonathan Horowitz, "Go Vegan!"
Gavin Brown's enterprise
601 Washington Street
New York, New York
Through June 19, 2010
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Rob Pruitt, Mark Rothko, 2008, in "The Living and the Dead," at Gavin Brown's enterprise, July 1 through August 7, 2009. Photo: 16 Miles [more]
When one of the chief criticisms levied against an artist is that his success is a result of relentless, soulless networking, it's somewhat refreshing to see him unashamedly create a book reviewing his entire career that is comprised almost entirely of quotations culled from influential friends, acquaintances, hangers–on, and famous names. And that appears to be what Rob Pruitt has done for his new book, Pop Touched Me.
The quality of these testimonies vary from the pleasantly kind (Jeff Koons: "I've always loved Rob's work.") to the somewhat lackluster (Sofia Coppola: "I like his pandas, and he seems like a cool guy."), but it amounts to a fairly comprehensive history of the last two decades of a certain group of artists working in New York. Jerry Saltz and Jeffrey Deitch present some of the book's more entertaining moments:
The last time I ever did cocaine was when Rob laid his fifty-foot long line of coke on mirrors on the floor of that loft on 14th street.
– Jerry Saltz
The most arresting memory that I retain from the most historic downtown art event of the early 1990s, the opening of Jeff Koons's "Made in Heaven," is not of Jeff, but of Rob Pruitt and his partner, Jack Early. Jeff's old friend Andy Moses had hosted a party at his Broome Street loft after the public opening at the Sonnabend Gallery. I was standing in the kitchen area, talking with some friends, when I was halted in mid-sentence by an astonishing image. Rob and Jack were moving toward us, propping up Anthony Haden-Guest, holding his penis as they gingerly guided him toward an open garbage pail. With a courtly gesture, which reminded me of the way a gentleman would help a lady with her coat, Rob directed Haden-Guest's penis into the center of the garbage can and held it there as the famous journalist relieved himself.
– Jeffrey Deitch, "The Story of Rob Pruitt"
Monday, July 27, 2009
David Choi, Squirrel, 2009. Photos: 16 Miles [more]
The Living and the Dead [installation view] at Gavin Brown's enterprise.
Matthew Cerletty, David Brooks, 2009.
Rachel Feinstein, The Orphan, 2009.
ronkom, Economics 101, 2009.
Scott Penkava, Untitled (Portrait of Felix in NY), 2009.
George Condo, The Apparition, 2009.
Jerry Blackman, Untitled (To Amelia), 2008.
Rob Pruitt, Mark Rothko, 2008.
Nick Relph, 620 Fags, disallowed, 2009.
The Living and the Dead
Gavin Brown's enterprise
620 Greenwich Street
New York, New York
Through August 7, 2009
Photographs: 16 Miles [more]