Thomas Hirschhorn, "Superficial Engagement," Jan. 14-Feb. 11, 2006, at Gladstone Gallery, 515 West 24th Street, New York, N.Y. 10011
Thomas Hirschhorn's latest exhibition is a walk-in manifesto, a book of the dead about the psychic place where mysticism, modernism, mayhem and terror collapse into one another. Many will find this show revolting. Not because it's bad or resembles a parade float from perdition, or weakens on repeated visits, but because of Hirschhorn's use of violent imagery and his supposed estheticizing of it. One critic has already lambasted the show as an "adolescent crapfest" that evinces "a puerile addiction to the macabre and the scatological." This reaction is too easy. It's also fishy, considering that horrific images -- from lynching pictures to gangland murders -- have been seen and produced in America for more than a century.