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Robert Gober, installation view, Matthew Marks Gallery




Beth Campbell
Never Ending Continuity Error
2004





Kevin Landers
Bicycle and Signpost
2005





Wayne Adams
Mom, Mike and Ed
2004
Time and Change
by Charlie Finch


Nostalgia is death.
      -- Bob Dylan

Few installations are as perfectly realized as the Robert Gober cathedral currently on view at Matthew Marks' 22nd Street manse. Various commercially viable reliquaries serve as Stations of the Cross, culminating in a headless Christ amusingly gushing water from its nipples and two peekaboo bathrooms, which gaze back at Jasper Johns' nostalgic bathtub series and forward to Jasper's solo effort in the same space next month.

The Good Friday audience worshiping in Mr. Gobers neighborhood included 2007 Venice Biennale chief Rob Storr, artist Abby Leigh and Arthur Solway, director of James Cohan Gallery.

Amidst all of our "oohs" and "ahs," we asked Storr if hed seen Beth Campbell's bathroom piece at Art Basel Miami Beach, entitled Never Ending Continuity Error, in which one stares through a mirror (actually an empty frame) at the slowly disintegrating repeated utilitarian objects in a series of bathroom sinks. You can try this at home by simply getting up each morning and, as the Brits say, doing your toilet.

For an added frisson, lounge in the bathtub until a mystery man sneaks through the crack. That's how Jasper Johns does it. Gober, too.

Kevin Landers, that puckish re-assembler of memory, evokes Johns' sorcery over things past in his new show at Elizabeth Dee Gallery. As the saucy Ms. Dee told us, "Kevin builds cherished objects from his past out of common materials."

These include an old bicycle wrapped around a street sign and various boom boxes, clocks, toasters and other past crapola dear to the artist's sly heart. All artists apparently cherish their totems: Landers' potato chips, Gobers newspaper, Johns' George Orr ceramic vases.

For Wayne Adams, totems are people -- his father died suddenly when Wayne was a baby, and the vaguely Richteresque paintings we enjoyed at Adams' Bushwick studio invoke a past he was too young to remember consciously, in blue collar Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Here are his father holding baby Wayne, his mother and his brothers, a shambling slightly sinister family friend, evanescing in bye-bye land. There's nothing like melancholy disguised as esthetic anesthetic. If that's what you want, Wayne delivers.

When the collectors divide the works above, taking a piece of sadness home from the famous and the obscure, let these artists open up their tired eyes.

It's springtime! Time for life!


CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).

 
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