While "Forbidden Aspirations for Ascendancy" is one of the most forbidding exhibition titles of the season, this theatrical presentation by Julian LaVerdiere, a young New York artist making his solo debut, is one of the season's best. It has everything: fascinating sculptures that look like works on loan from the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City, Cal., dim mood lighting, piped-in droning techno music by German composer Wolfgang Voigt and a video projection.
Even though the show has a rather somber, almost funereal atmosphere, I found it difficult to pull myself away from the dream-like environment; his work has tremendous substance as well as ambience. A long narrow tank, for example, contains a meticulously crafted model of a sunken clipper ship. LaVerdiere, who worked as a professional model maker, has illuminated the sculpture in such a way that lends it an unearthly glow. Another case contains a model for a V2 rocket. A video image of a spinning treasure chest is projected on a nearby wall, while flickering wires draw lines on odd-looking cots placed on the floor.
LaVerdiere seems to merge past, present and future, raising poignant questions for the new millennium. Does one begin a new era by burying the past, as in a time capsule? Is technology as fluid as we like to think it is? Are we as compatible with it as we think we are? What if technology finally overtakes humankind? What if we are suddenly unable to adapt to new technologies? And finally, is there art after death?
Julian LaVerdiere, "Forbidden Aspirations for Ascendancy," Nov. 17-Dec. 18, 1999, at Andrew Kreps, 529 West 20th St., New York, N.Y. 10011.