We Went to the LES: Neil Goldberg at PARTICIPANT INC

by Paddy Johnson and Corinna Kirsch on April 30, 2015 Reviews

Still from Neil Goldberg's  "Reverse Commute" (2015).

Still from Neil Goldberg’s “Reverse Commute” (2015).

Neil Goldberg, One Version of Events
253 East Houston Street
New York, NY 10002
Runs through May 24, 2015

What’s on view: photographs of (presumably) gay couples carrying Whole Foods bags; video of animals eating other animals, while floating inside of bubbles; humorous drawings of animals eating humans; a video of the artist (presumably) purchasing dog poo from dog walkers; and a video of the artist walking on all fours, in reverse, while his clothes fall off

Corinna: I came for the art, I stayed because WTF. Walk in, and on your left hangs a grid of surveillance-style shots, “The Gay Couples of Whole Foods” (2013 – 2015), featuring mostly good-looking, lean men carrying brown Whole Foods bags. To your right, you see a series of salon-style graphite drawings, “Wild Animals Eat My Family and Me” (2015), featuring a python squeezing a baby, hyenas devouring the insides of a bespectacled bro, and a leopard gnawing, like a vampire, at the neck of a teenager. Then reversing the convention of “cute babies in bubbles,” Goldberg shows a truly gorgeous video featuring “not-so-cute wild animals devouring carcasses in bubbles.” Ha. This is an over-the-top way of showing how humans are an uptight sort of animal—humans buy food to eat, the product, while animals eat animals, the process.

Overall the show’s conceit casts too wide a net—works based around eating and animals—but I was happy to see some art on today’s gallery-jaunt that can make fun of itself. The only work that bordered on conceptual heavy-hitting, for me, was “Reverse Commute” (2015), which showed the artist on all fours walking back to his studio. Along the way, his clothes fall off and he ends up naked, in his studio with a microphone shoved up his hole. The end result of this procedure is a whole lot of static coming out of the microphone. Could be a personal anecdote about being an artist: does he do it for pleasure, pain, or is it just noise?

Paddy: I like your interpretation, because the microphone seems to represent the self-obsessed artist voice, which suggests awareness of a possible line of critique with this video. I’d say it has something to do with humbling or degrading tasks, based on its proximity to “Shit Hunt,” a video where the artist tries to buy bags of dog shit from dog owners on the street. I don’t know how much thought about this is really warranted though. I mean, what is there to say about the relationship of dog-shit commerce to microphone butt-fucking?

On another subject, it’s worth noting that the two works seem like they’re not even part of the same show as the food stuff. Past the fact that there’s zero relationship in content, they’re separated from the larger show by a wall. Does it benefit Goldberg to present all the work in the same space? For work that isn’t saying a whole lot I left very confused, so I’d say “no.”

Corinna: Agreed. Those videos would have fit better in a different show.

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