Tim Hawkinson, Scout, 2006-2007
Creating an all new low record for myself last week I spent three hours in Chelsea and viewed only 6 exhibitions. There may still be tons of crap up in that neighborhood, but for once in my life I managed to avoid viewing most of it. The first post of three highlights lists below.
Tim Hawkinson at Pace Wildenstein
Anyone else remember Tim Hawkinson’s previous gallery Ace? If you do, you’ll recall that they disappeared in New York two years ago after they lost their exhibition space in Soho (a place remarkable both for its size and truly bizarre public bathrooms — Who makes a toilet raised only a few inches off the ground and thinks any woman is going to want to use it?) Given the fact that the gallery won’t reopen until the Fall of 2007 again (assuming their website is accurate) it’s not surprising to see Tim Hawkinson showing somewhere else. Pace probably wouldn’t have been my first choice for the artist, since the corporate environment seems to have a way of deadening the work of anyone I like, but judging by his latest exhibition How Man is Knit, he must be impervious to the Pace effect.
Loosely threaded together by the theme of hand made objects (Klein bottle not withstanding), the exhibition leaves behind his industrial bagpipe like sculptures for all sorts of awkward but charming objects, and a few that run closer along the lines of disturbing. To my mind Scout (above), a headless man with giant hands and ball sack (or penis – we’re not really sure,) represents the strongest work in the show. Made out of padded envelopes and held together by stitching and duct tape this creature reiterates his knack for creating hands that are essentially rendered useless. It is also possibly the best use for any U.S. Postal Service product I’ve seen.
Photos: Pace Wildenstein (left), AFC (right)
Also in this exhibition, an array of creepy collaged digital prints captured the attention of virtually any viewer I observed in the gallery. The images themselves uniquely patch together skin often to create orifices, sexual organs, and eyeballs. Normally I hate this kind of work because it carries with it the boring goal of being “self awarely shocking”, but Hawkinson pulls it off with his use of materials. What makes these pieces successful lies in their mounting on foam which gives the art a greater presence as objects. What’s more the aesthetic of this foam as both a presentation and structural element to the work creates a great variation of texture and surface to the work.
The only significant low point of this exhibition to my mind comes in the form of “Deposition”, (pictured above), a broken kinetic tree art work. Who knows what it’s supposed to do since the work still hasn’t been fixed, but it’s there for viewers to figure out. I guess collectors from miles away line up to buy the broken equipment — they can display it proudly next to that great painting with a hole in its face, and a video that no longer plays properly.