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    Gotham Dispatch
by Max Henry
 
     
 
Tim White
video still from
Runner
1999
 
Tim White
video still from
Presence
1999
 
Daniel Pflumm
installation view at Greene Naftali
 
Daniel Pflumm
installation view at Greene Naftali
 
Rodney Graham
Halcion Sleep
1990
 
Patty Chang
Come With Me, Swim With You
1998
 
Patty Chang
HD
1999
 
Entering Lawrence Rubin, Greenberg Van Doren Fine Art
 
Installation view with works by Katy Grannan
 
With the war in Kosovo everywhere on the news, the pair of video projections by Tim White at Alexandre de Folin in Chelsea seems very much to the martial point. Using WWII documentary clips to a realistic effect, Presence (1999) is a sequence of grainy frames showing the trajectory of aerial bombs landing and exploding in the distant landscape below. Abandonment of El Alamein -The Runner (1999) shows a blurred soldier running across a smoky battlefield towards an unknowable fate.

Both projections are trapezoid-shaped and bathed in an Yves Klein blue light, heightening their dramatic mood. In an adjacent room were large color photographs (priced at $1,200-$3,500, editions of three) that freeze the digitally altered images into pointillist fields of texture and color. The overall effect is one of detachment from horror, the kind of feeling engendered by war films like Apocalypse Now or Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory. White gives his installation a haunting, elegiac quality with the addition of a low-decibel soundtrack of bombs exploding and the heavy breathing of a lone running soldier. This compelling show is among the season's finest so far.

Another young artist to watch is the Berlin-based Daniel Pflumm, who has his first New York solo at Greene Naftali. Titled "CNN," the exhibition presents several videotapes and a group of illuminated signs. Several of Pflumm's videos use actual news footage and images of corporate logos. Other tapes are more abstract, and reduce the logos to their elementary formal elements, which hop and jump about the screen in moving grids of color and pixel. Pflumm also composed a pulsating techno soundtrack that shares the syncopated oblong and staccato tempo of the video images.

As for Pflumm's industrial light box sculptures, they are rave indeed, using the soft round shapes of hip modern marketing minus the actual brand name or acronym. Plexiglas green and white or red and yellow, these works derive their shapes and colors in part from design supergraphics and part from Ellsworth Kelly. There's something very HAL about it all. Take the soundtrack home on disc for $20 or Pflumm's CNN logo T-shirt for $30 -- while supplies last....

Remember the Rodney Graham film last year at 303 Gallery? Called Vexation Island, the tape showed the artist costumed as a pirate, stranded on an exotic island complete with parrot and coconut tree. The camera would linger on the prone pirate, apparently asleep on the beach under a bright sky. No sooner would the pirate arise and approach a coconut tree than the fruit would fall and land on his head, knocking him unconscious again. Well, Graham seems obsessed by the dream world. The 1990 work on view in the back room of Friedrich Petzel Gallery is titled Halcion Sleep (available on laser disc, in an edition of three -- though this version is marked "not for sale"). In black and white, the 26-minute loop features the pajamaed artist sleeping in the rear of a moving automobile after ingesting a potent pharmaceutical. The tape has a Laurel & Hardy pathos, and a tragicomic seriousness addressing issues of human frailty within two worlds; the sleeping and the waking states.

Patty Chang, New York's newest body artist, has her first solo show at Jack Tilton Gallery this month. In the front room are a number of videotapes and several color photographs taken by David Kelley that depict Chang in several performances. In one photo she stuffs a few dozen hot dogs in her mouth. In another, Chang carves a cantaloupe that she wears in a bra like a prosthetic breast (the work was inspired by her aunt's breast cancer). A comic video shows her wrestling with a sex-shop blow-up doll in a bathtub.

Chang's live performances often involve contraptions that she attaches to her face and rigs in her open mouth, creating a drooling rubbery face that is notably discomforting to watch. The artist presented two-hour performances each Saturday afternoon during the run of her show at Tilton -- in one she sat on a stool in a bridal gown, holding a clear glass ball in her open mouth, apparently gasping for air. The performance embraces physical anxiety, exertion and restraint as well as a goofy sense of fun, like a cartoon come to life. One can only wonder what her face feels like afterwards.

The new 57th Street powerhouse gallery, Lawrence Rubin, Greenberg Van Doren Fine Art, has hit the art world like a tsunami. Located up on the seventh floor in the Crown building (where visitors have to sign in), the gallery's blue-chip roster includes the estate of Richard Diebenkorn, whose works constituted the jam-packed first show in the gallery's light-flooded space, and a forthcoming exhibition of Roy Lichtenstein.

The gallery is also showing emerging artists. It's second exhibition, a group show of photographs by women entitled "Another Girl, Another Planet," garnered a great deal of attention with its pastoral images of teenage girls, notably the neo-erotic stills of rising star Malerie Marder (look for Marder's first solo at this gallery). Red dots are also pursing the Arcadian Bathers by Justine Kurland (at $1,500, in an edition of six) and the untitled "Poughkeepsie Journal" images of young girls in their underwear by Katy Grannan ($1,800, edition of six).

Photographer and Yale art professor Gregory Crewdson organized the show, including some of his former students. The combination of high-quality establishment artists and the raw sexual energy of the young artist scene promises to make this gallery an intriguing stop on the art-world itinerary.


MAX HENRY is a New York poet and curator.