Kris Martin, Mandi VIII, 2006, Plaster, 86 2/3 x 59 x 39 1/3 inches, Rachofsky Collection, Dallas. Image copyright PS1
After leaving PS1 Contemporary Art Center's mass of recent openings with a mental count of three skulls, two hanging knight helmets, one room-sized sword, an installation of knife clusters and a carpet made of tar, I decided it safe to identify Gothic as an underlying theme at the institution this fall. Artists find the western world barbarous, crude and decaying, and with multiple shows making specific reference to the seedy underbelly of mass culture and the corrosion of authorship, there's little wonder why.
But despite the gravity of the message, I must say that very little made me care. I'm not saying I think art should be responsible for educating or eliciting tangible viewer reactions, but I do wish more of the work I experienced significantly moved me one way or the other. Adel Abdessemed's lukewarm exhibition Dead or Alive perfectly exemplifies this: The artist's luxury cruise liner made out of trash reveals a raw, ugly energy within the act of destruction, but is stymied by the installation's singularity in tone. A video of a cat eating a rat, a freestanding collection of large marble screws and several circular knife clusters each speak with similar pitch and volume. I can only assume that's part of the artist's point — that we live in a culture of both dread and frenzy — but literal representations of concepts like this tend to prohibit deeper intellectual investigations.
To read the full piece click here.