Character Reference at Bryce Wolkowitz

by Art Fag City on January 18, 2007 Events

MTAA, Infinite Smile, Video Loop 

Character Reference
Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery
601 West 26th Street, Suite 1240
January 19 – February 24, 2007
Opening: Thursday, January 18, 6:00PM – 8:00PM
Full release here 

I will spend most of today anticipating Character Reference, an exhibition at Bryce Wolkowtiz that opens tonight. Already off to a good start in my books , the portrait show has a title that does not involve the word portrait or face puns. In particular, I am looking forward to seeing the work of MTAA in this show, as in the midst of a snark roll last year, I condemned a similarly themed piece at Artist Space and now wish to compare the two. To quote myself,

In an effort to close down SoHo for good as an art district, “Ten People Smiling”, a performance by Vlatka Horvat and Tim Etchells will be held at Artists Space. Yes, as the title suggests ten people will be smiling…for sixty minutes in a gallery space. I guess the term performance art was redefined as a boring party game when I wasn’t looking. The issue I have with work like this is that it poses as an intellectual investigation of social behaviour, when the methods employed to measure this behaviour most likely start and end with a video camera. Spending Friday night with the DSM IV manual looks to be just about as interesting, and undoubtedly more informative. Link to full post here.

About ten minutes after publishing this piece, t.whid of MTAA sent me a link to Infinite Smile, which I loved, but momentarily sent me into a mine field of self doubt. Had I been unfair? If not, is this piece actually better? Do I merely privilege the video loop?

No, yes, and well, maybe. 

To be honest, the investigation of the happy/agonized smile always sounds like a trite premise to me, but MTAA successfully makes the idea compelling. Formalism certainly goes a long way in helping the group achieve this, as their video looks great. In fact, it turns what could be a simple gesture into something that is at once elegant and whimsical.

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