Paddy Johnson at Time Out NY: How Soon Is Now at the Bronx Museum

by Art Fag City on August 7, 2008 Reviews

Dulce Pinzon, Cecillia
Dulce Pinzon
, Cecilia

This week’s issue of Time Out NY, includes my feature on How Soon Is Now at the Bronx Museum which I’m republishing a portion of here. Naturally, I encourage you all to purchase the issue because there are all kinds of listings and reviews you can only find in the print version.

In its 28th year, Artist in the Marketplace (AIM), the Bronx Museum of the Arts' career-building program for emerging artists, is sending off its latest class with an exhibition titled “How Soon Is Now?” AIM enrolls 36 students a year, just six percent of those who apply. Most arrive with art degrees, and this unusual postgraduate night school tutors them in the practicalities of copyright law, taxes and marketing.

Like any cyclical program, AIM varies from class to class. There's something uniquely exciting about the evaluation of a season's latest trends (curator Erin Riley-Lopez is this edition's arbiter). But a weak show can replace that exuberance with lethargy and cynicism, and this one is a true buzzkill. “How Soon Is Now?” is a plethora of flimsy Conceptual pieces dominating a space that has often seen better.

AIM is always uneven, but this year a critical mass of the work looks undeveloped and even amateurish. Negar Ahkami presents the only large-scale painting, The Birth of Pattern, but it's a poorly executed mash-up—Frida Kahlo meets Judy Chicago in Persia. The video Sing-A-Long #1 (when a man and a woman listen to “when a man loves a woman” and they don't know each other) by Rä di Martino unfolds exactly as described, with no more intellectual grist than its title provides. Two futuristic installations, Kelli Miller's The True Believer (stacks of silver televisions on green carpet) and Si Jae Byun's Catch (an inflated plastic environment encasing a monitor) lean so powerfully on art-school clichés that they stymie the success of promising videos. (The Bronx Museum makes matters worse for artists who use sound, providing headphones so poor that they compromise the work the institution wishes to promote.)

The few highlights stand out. Brendan Carroll's wall of type-inscribed Polaroids is flecked with short texts that declare their independence from the images to which they're attached. On a photograph of a brick wall, a couch and two odd lights resembling eyes, he's typed, HE WROTE TO DO LISTS, AND SURFED THE NET FOR JAPANESE PORNO. HIS MOTHER CALLED; on another, a close-up of an advertisement, I HAVE GIRL HANDS­—TINY, DELICATE, SMOOTH. I STARTED THERAPY FOR THE TWENTIETH TIME TODAY. As in the photo pages of a biography, every caption suggests a narrative continued elsewhere.

To read the full piece click here.

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