I was continually smiling while walking through EFA Project Space, aware that, despite the absence of expensive and singular art objects, a gallery has never felt like more of a retail environment to me. If posters have traditionally activated a desire for the objects they display—for rock concerts, for bath products, for political movements and candidates—it is uncannily appropriate that the gallery here should activate a desire for the posters it contains.
Using a novel as a way of organizing artwork activates two curatorial impulses, both of which undergird much of the work on view here. The first is to focus on atmosphere, to address the novel’s setting and thematic index without offering any chunky narrative bits; conversely, there is an impulse to invoke plot points overtly, and to intimate the book’s arc for the viewers able to discern it. This balancing act isn’t easy, but it’s pursued by Lopez-Chahoud and Evans with remarkable grace.
Walter Benjamin’s essay has supplied the e-book-averse with the cryptic core of their relative Ludditism.
A condemned building, converted into a gallery where artwork would be shown but not sold, would seem the perfect interstitial site for airing the group’s concerns. 123 Delancey then proved an almost platonic answer to the question, “What room for politicized creativity exists after all problematic economies have been avoided?” Thirty years after the fact, it is thrilling to imagine that a building’s exclusion from every marketplace could become the very premise for so much new artwork. With ABC’s vacant-to-flamboyant genesis in mind, it is no wonder that Olek’s obstructed windows are inviting rather than prohibitive. (And, from the inside, the crocheted patterns do wonderful things with the light on a sunny day.)
Janos Stone’s I Never Thought I Would Meet Someone Like You, located at the other end of the hallway, explores an ecstasy patently prohibited in a convent, and was among my favorite pieces in the show. Relegated to a small closet is a sculpture of a nude male, almost three feet tall, Herculean, anonymous, well-endowed, with a wispy tangle of pubic hair made from hot glue. Three discrete sets of images are projected upon different regions of this tabula rasa, resulting in a sort of “exquisite corpse” by way of Tony Oursler.