Sara Greenberger Rafferty
170 Suffolk Street
New York, NY 10002
Runs through December 21, 2014
What a difference a space can make. Rafferty has created a theatrical event in the upstairs and downstairs of the still-new Uffner galleries with floor-to-ceiling curtains dotted with pink-and-purple flies; blob-like paintings (of people, a wall, a noose) and inkjet prints layered on top of each other, flattened behind plexi to give the appearance of multi-dimensional depth; all adorned with the tiniest of hardware, like screws, that have been attached to the surface of her works.
Throughout the exhibition, I kept thinking about flatness—how even three-dimensional screwheads can look planar when added atop plexi. But hers is really a theatre of deception, and no matter just how flat her works may seem, there’s always shallow depth. In a time of flat paintings—mostly I’m referring to those that lack perspective, as if all that’s shown on the canvas has been pressed up close to your eyes—I appreciate that the next course of action might be a transition from pure flatness to a somewhat flat, though highly layered space. (Just take a trip around NADA, or the Lower East Side to see full-on flatness in action.) Though that’s likely to seem like a boring formal conceit to some, in an age where we look at flat screens all day long, it’s unsurprising that artists are trying to understand the depths of flatness. But full-on flatness could be a misreading of how we actually interact with screens: looking at emails all day might seem like a very flat life, but when you’re roaming the halls of a video game, you can become fully immersed. Sara Greenberger Rafferty’s works come close to demonstrating that strange balance found in our age of screens.
The Swiss Institute’s First Annual Design Series: Fin de Siècle
Curated by Andreas Angelidakis
18 Wooster Street
New York NY 10013
Runs through November 23, 2014
I’ve found a nominee for this year’s best exhibition. It’s a show about chairs.
At the Swiss Institute’s first annual design exhibition, you’ll find Modernist designs by the likes of Le Corbusier alongside less-household names like Martine Boileau. Walk into their main gallery and you’ll see chairs scattered about, as if acting in several unconnected plays. Save for the occasional industrial floodlight set on the floor, to spotlight certain chairs, The first: H.R. Giger’s predatory chair—the same type of sleek, black plastic as Darth Vader’s armor—comes complete with a bony spine along the chair’s back. It has been set high upon high, as if on a throne, with other chairs down below, a captive audience playing the role of disciples. Other settings include a schoolroom with a chalkboard and a chair set up as a dunce in the corner, and a disco ball-lit psychoanalyst chair (Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, and Charlotte Perriand) in conversation with another chair, one with an orange ball substituted for one of its four feet (Peter Shire). These chairs were on stage, but rather than seeming human, they approximated evil, having a brooding, unknown life of their own.