Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Meat After Meat Joy", curated by Heide Hatry at Daneyal Mahmood Gallery

(c)Betty Hirst, American Flag 2008, Meat and lard on panel, 33 x 60 inches, courtesy of the gallery

(c) Zahng Huan - My New York 2002, Performance, Whitney Biennial, courtesy of the gallery

(C) Betty Hirst,Baby II 2008, Meat, 14 x 8.5 x 3 inches, courtesy of the gallery
Group Exhibition runs October 16 - November 15, 2008

The flesh is weak but the spirit is strong. Using meat, as a material is most certainly an interesting concept with predisposed associations and references. Once passed a slightly sickening sweet scent at the opening there are interesting levels to investigate. The material is life and death symbolically of course but it is also a signifier something was and is no longer itself. Though it is almost impossible to get around the “spectacle” of the material, Heide Hatry plays down that aspect in order to dig deeper into the collection of works.

Betty Hirst’s works are visceral chunks formed into sculptures. In Hirst’s “American Flag” piece she creates horizontal lines of meat and lard sprouting maggots deteriorating before your eyes within its frame. Possibly, we have come to this collectively, a carcass of ideals left to fester. In her work “Dried Baby” the meat infant is a basic figure with minor details alluding to gender. Faceless lying on a light pink satin material under a single hanging gallery light, small stains have begun to settle into the fabric. The disturbing warmth of the yellow light washes over the work as in a strange hatchery...

In Zahng Huan’s video “My New York 2002 – Performance Whitney Biennial” Huan’s meat suit is as bulked up as any contemporary super hero. He is now publicly fully exposed, vulnerable without the most basic protection of his own skin.

Carolee Schneemann’s "Meat Joy (1964) performance" in which both men and women roll around biting raw chicken unleash unabashed desire bound to the body but not exclusive to it. They roll and slide, playfully confident in their “being” without concerns of social or sexual pre-conditions and judgment.

Curious by nature, I oddly found myself wanting to touch the work to experience its texture first hand. Would it really feel different because of its placement in a gallery and presence as art object than preparing it for dinner? This is where the brain kicks in to add its two cents to the experience.

Heide Hatry wearing a black jumper with thin slices peeking through cut outs invited me to touch it. Naturally, I did hoping to find an unexpected reaction. Still supple with a slightly dried thin layer, the meat against her body gave way as if I were touching something deeper. She had given me something which felt very personal, a moment to see beneath the layers of skin through the cut outs of the jumper.

What she had given was a rare experience.

Daneyal Mahmood Gallery
511 West 25th Street, 3FL
New York, NY, 10001
T: 212 675 – 2966
F: 212 675 – 3966

contact the gallery for further information and a full list of participating artists.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Emergency Arts Open Studios

(c) Vadis Turner, "Sex Swing" photograph courtesy of the artist

(c) Daphne Parks, "Peace" photograph courtesy of the artist

Creating a new history, the large warehouse building known as Emergency Arts on Eleventh Avenue in Chelsea was completely gutted and renovated using the original and donated materials as well fixtures designed by selected artists. The four-story space is a catacomb of artists’ studios and large event areas. The work created here since it’s inaugural opening several years ago has been exceptional. In this years open studios I found several artists of particular interest.

Annysa Ng’s work, which I’ve followed since our first meeting, was impressive. Poetic, meticulous and philosophic pieces ranging from paintings and sculptures to installation are absolutely wonderful. In particular is her installation piece, “Who is the dreamer” a plain wooden chair slightly off kilter, one leg precariously perched on a crackle glass ball. Yellow butterflies gather resting along one side of the chair while strands of braided and loose dark hair flow from the ceiling cascading over suspended clear bars. Fantastic to see in person.

Daphne Park’s paintings on paper are interesting images of figures in transformation or a metamorphosis of sorts twisting new tales to be told. They are gentle expressions at first glance with a subtle uneasiness lingering in your thoughts. Her work “Peace” depicts an almost Allison in Wonderland” girl fluttering within a rich reddish brown space. An animal skull mask covering half her face, a long pipe in her mouth wafting smoke into a billow of form reminiscent of the Cheshire cat. Standing on two pairs of doe like legs a shorter pair between the second and a second pair of shoulders above the first, brought to mind two selves the conscious and unconscious in process of resolution.

Vadis Turner’s work twists basic domestic materials into another realm. Her work “Peek-a-Boo” is a sexy lingerie set made from wax paper in which she uses pins and tooth pics to gingerly create the lace pattern. Precious little bows tie the peek-a-boo areas around the nipple and crotch area of the undergarments. “Sex Swing” is made from quilting patterns from childhood into a pillow like swing suspended from the ceiling, complete with a little heart pillow. Though the materials or process of the works are very “innocently feminine” by traditional standards, Turner is not only questioning but breaking these ideas with an added sense of humor.

Harima Midori’s sculptures constructed from a collage of various black and white images on paper were quite stunning. In particular was a piece with several life size coyote type animals arranged in a semi circle. One looking directly up at you is very menacing. You’ve stepped where your presence is in question like an intrusive visitor being sized up for acceptance or denial. Not to miss is the eerie large carousel piece. There’s a separate gallery entrance to this.

You don’t need an emergency to pay a visit to this home of inventive new work.

Friday, October 03, 2008

“Art Under The Bridge”, Dumbo Art Festival

(c) Kyle Goen, studio at 55 Washington Street photograph courtesy of the artist

(c) Kyle Goen, studio at 55 Washington Street photograph courtesy of the artist

(c) Kyle Goen "John Walker Lindh Tea Towels"photograph courtesy of the artist

All roads lead to Brooklyn, as both the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge converge in the little area with big ideas known as Dumbo. The bridge to somewhere indeed a weekend of art at it’s best. “Art Under the Bridge” is a weekend festival of open studios, interventions, strange parades, music and a bit of humor in these tumultuous times. Projects by artists included a video of free floating fetus images projected on the walls of a little alcove of the Brooklyn bridge, a huge strange media organism piece sponsored by Current TV, clone babies in a carnival glass box to win for $2, parades of strange superheroes, dancing participants on grass throwing flowers under a huge grid of color blocks, an infinite wishing well of light and mirrors in a lobby and the open studios at 55 Washington Street.

As the world is turned upside down and inside out, we ride the roller coaster belted in our seats. Artists did not go gently into that good night but rather came out swinging fearlessly. At 55 Washington Streets Open Studios, artist Kyle Goen brings together both message and aesthetic in political art. Working primarily in a combination of painting and printmaking as well as large installation pieces, the works bravely take on the issues of our history and it’s consequences. In Geon’s piece, "John Walker Lindh Tea Towels" the progression of the portraits is chilling. More so for me is the fact that they are printed on a domestic material whose purpose is to “clean up a mess, to wipe it clean”. The texture of the fabric lends itself to the newsprint dot, reinforcing notions of printed media images, identification photos, wanted posters and morgue photos. The orange red tones of the prints and woven material have an unsettling beauty to them juxtaposed to the images.

For the price of a token and a quick train ride, this weekend brought the best views from the Brooklyn side.