BIRD WATCHING AT TOOMER LABZDAApr. 27, 2012
In Portland, you can just put a bird on something and call it art. In the Lower East Side, it’s more like you can appropriate some ornithological imagery, dissect it through subtractive processes, reassemble it with accumulative ones, and call the result a sociopolitical and ecological mashup. At least that’s how Toomer Labzda gallery is spinning its new postmodern take on that ultimate hipster cliché, bird imagery, in the exhibition “Birds, Bodies and Bricolage,” Apr. 29-June 9, 2012.
A few participants in the show represent birds literally, like Dutch artist Bram Muller’s digital superimposing of composer Franz Schubert’s head onto the body of a Gothic condor, titled Schubird. Or Patrick Coyle’s cut-out silhouettes of bird species, layered atop garden photography.
Other times, the artists themselves take on the role of the birds. For Campaigner (2011), Virginia artist Taylor Baldwin scavenged for roots, brambles, cables, wire and other scraps and weaved the material into a model pair of skinless, anatomical arms clutching a gun, half blown-up like a horrific military casualty.
Jason Gringler’s bricolage sculpture abstractly invokes a kind of nest-building process in which he smashes mirrors and Plexiglas and then systematically reassembles the pieces into new, complex geometric forms.
A more mechanical builder, Brooklyn sculptor Jerry Blackman, casts and grafts together resin, rope, fiberboard, mirrored aluminum and other leftover materials from his studio to produce singular new forms. The cyclical process -- fusing Plexiglas to mirror to wood to resin to Plexiglas -- instinctively results in circular forms with illusory surfaces, like ombre patterns and rainbow gradients.
Finally, humming around it all is an audio track by Coyle in which he incoherently mumbles all of the copy associated with the show -- the press release, artist bios, wall text. Surely in the tiny, 200-square-foot gallery, that’ll make anyone feel part of a swarm.