Yuki Nakamura, Dream Suspended, 2006, porcelain, neon wire, AC drivers, dimensions variable Katsura Okada, Zest, 2007, 1,020 rice paper rolls and color SUMI ink, Photograph: B.
An artist recently told me he found the effort of visiting shows outside Chelsea generally yielded better results, but that the allure of looking at a lot of work at once usually won over. Having spent a good deal of time this week looking at over sized and ostentatious spaces housing like minded art in that neighborhood, this conversation held particular resonance for me. In particular, it reminded me that I should really discuss Compass: New Directions, an exhibition curated by Jill Conner currently on display at Black and White Gallery in Williamsburg simply because it provides some relief to the showier Chelsea scene.
Carol Boram-Hays , Wall: Limbo, 2005, mixed media, 3 x12 feet, Ground: Lethe, 2007, mixed media, dimensions variable. Photograph: B.
If nothing else, the work of the nine artists showcased in Conner’s exhibition share an interest in formalism, frequently through repetition of motif and material. Yuki Nakamura employs numerous porcelain soccer balls that hang from color strings and are attached to a motorized pulley system on the ceiling to create a moving arrangement of forms. Katsura Okada displays yellow rice paper rolls in clusters that take on a beautiful amorphous shape on the wall, and the solid cement and rebar formations in the courtyard by Carol Boram-Hays suggest movement that is literalized by the sculptures within the gallery space.
Left: Ann Ginburgh Hofkin, Intersection, 2007, digital color print, 60 x 40 inches, Right: Crit Streeds, Speak to Me, 2003 – 2007, video installation. Photos copyright Black and White Gallery
None of the works mentioned seem interested in overly concept driven work, which is just fine by me because the sculptures function so well as objects. The only stumbling points in the show come from works that either rely to heavily on formalism and thereby verge on decorative, such as Ann Ginburgh Hofkin’s floral Intersection, and those that speak to conceptualism without adding anything to the discourse, as is the case with Crit Streeds’ Baldessari inspired video Speak To Me.
With that said, group exhibitions with only one or two weak points are rare, so certainly the show warrants a visit. Notably, Black and White Gallery also happens to be across the street from some trendy clothing shops, which for those of us who either can’t afford or don’t care to dress like the pod people at Comme des GarÃ§ons, will be a welcome change.