Close by, Trenton Duerksen’s Armchair Palimpsest squats like a sturdy lighthouse. A tapered, white base frames four walls of blackboard (chalk included); atop this is a wooden block on which an abstract, cartoonish form emerges into the sky, like the cross section of a La-Z-Boy arm, complete with lever. Buoyed on it all is a huge, white beach ball that due to light reflecting off a nearby condominium complex, appears lavender against the pale sky. It bobs around like the head of a doll with a broken neck. It’s as though Duerksen has pillaged Pee Wee’s Playhouse and translated the furniture for the purposes of high design. “It’s a really elaborate pedestal is all,” he says, with goofy self-deprecation. Whatever it is, I want it.
Eric Doeringer, who in the past has sold bootleg copies of contemporary art, printed fake Art Basel VIP cards, created a tongue-in-cheek “fan site” dedicated to Matthew Barney, embroidered the “Polo” logo by hand onto generic shirts, and recreated several books by conceptual artists, here perfectly recreates a John Baldessari wall drawing. It’s hung across from a series of canvases by Brooklyn-based artist and editor Charles Gute. These depict the grammatical errors in works by Robert Barry, Douglas Huebler, Yoko Ono, and Sol Lewitt. Gute uses standard proofreading marks – in red ink no less – to correct instructions written by conceptual artists, instructions meant to be hyper-specific so as to be accurate enough that the pieces they describe are endlessly and hand-lessly recreate-able. My favorite edit: “Ambiguous pronoun referent – please be more specific.”
It’s unclear whether Davis has edited her archival footage so as to exaggerate Basquiat’s charisma or whether Basquiat’s charisma is potent enough to redeem even most throwaway of reels. Regardless, you half-expect his charms to subsume his talent. To locate Basquiat’s genius in that paradox of personality would be a misstep though, and one that he would hate. In 1981, when Annina Nosei offered him a room underneath her SoHo gallery to use as a workspace, Basquiat’s career transitioned from street to studio. He takes deep offense, however, to an interviewer who jokingly refers to him as an artist “locked in a basement.” Basquiat, without a moment’s hesitation, responds that if he were white, he would be called an “artist in residence.”
Seemingly readymade, these “square tubes,” were designed to Posenenske’s specifications and sold only for the cost of fabrication. By avoiding a gallery presentation and dispersing her unlimited, unsigned work for cost, Posenseske simultaneously refused and exaggerated her authority as an artist. Despite the simplicity of her forms, Posenenske’s career offers no precedent for the mass-produced, hyper-salable art of the past two-odd decades. Though her work is not at all dated, few vestiges of her artistic democracy persist today.
In the January 1971 issue of ArtNews, Linda Nochlin published her now-canonical essay Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? She must not have been talking about photography.
The show’s title, ‘Basin,’ comes from the name of one of many dumpster companies that service municipal New York. Dumpsters – ubiquitous but unseen – are, for whatever reason, marked by enigmatic inscriptions: “Liberty Ashes,” “Avid,” “Stallion,” “Viking,” “Imperial,” “Tiffany,” “King’s,” “Royal,” “Crown,” “Castle,” “Amanda,” “Rose,” “Atlas,” “Hercules.” The romance and heraldry of these brand names is of the sort of irony best left to Joan Didion. To read these alien messages – tragic, and oh-so American – is to be confronted by signals both familiar and foreign.
The partisanship surely lends the film urgency, but it also prevents a fair discussion of the political rubric, which here seems particularly hypocritical. Mr. Barnes purchased his art according to his own set of aesthetic sensibilities, which were undeniably passionate. But one also walks away with the nagging suspicion that his connoisseurship was inflected with healthy doses of greed and revenge – he bought this art so that his enemies could not. Indeed, ostentation and competition always have and always will determine much of the purchasing of major collectors – just attend the contemporary art auctions in May to see hedge fund managers dueling it out with Russian oligarchs. It can’t really be all about the art.
Kimmerich’s ambiance, redolent of a long-gone and much-mythologized SoHo, seems an appropriate setting for the paintings of Ivan Morley, an artist, who, in the past, has likened his work to “souvenirs of a fictional as well as an actual place.” His charged, symbolic images, often layered atop each other, evoke embellished memories and edited nightmares. Of the eight, multimedia paintings – hair, thread and leather sneak their way in – two are on fragmented, asymmetrical canvases, a chaotic, formal alteration to match the content.
Arnaut relies on a lingering camera to capture the unexplained relationship between the film’s main characters, two women of ambiguous age and relation to each other. They weave dreamily around a mostly empty apartment, wearing dingy pastels and ghastly makeup. Silently, they embrace, exchange pregnant glances from doleful eyes and eat meals off of filigreed china, the sustenance apparently supplied by the mysterious wounds that they must constantly tend. Lovers? Sisters? Mother and daughter? Their mute rapport is left enigmatic. What resonates though is the subtle and always-silent vying for psychological power that so often mars female relationships.