Slideshow: “Stray Light Grey” at Marlborough Chelsea

by Anthony Espino and Corinna Kirsch on September 24, 2012 · 6 comments Go See

“[Jonah Freeman & Justin Lowe] did this long before Breaking Bad was popular,” a Marlborough staff told an eager gallery goer who was busy eating up Stray Light Grey, the duo’s installation. The piece transforms the gallery space into a completely unrecognizable series of dust-covered rooms, like a paean to underground culture. I’ve never heard “artists did it before a TV show” as a selling point, but sometimes we take what we can get in the cultural relevancy department.

At Marlborough, the artists, and a series of innumerable assistants, have inserted all sorts of period rooms ranging from a neglected trailer park bathroom, a deserted dentist’s office, and a decrepit art gallery office. They did something similar with Hello Meth Lab in the Sun (2008), a faux-meth lab amusement park of sorts, but never to such an all-encompassing degree. There’s upstairs and downstairs rooms cobbled together from well-crafted knick knacks like airbrushed cakes, Matisse-brand paint thinner, a crab claw sculpture, and heavy layers of dust and spray foam that give the rooms an unmistakably musty smell. Breathe deep, Stray Light Grey is a long way away from anything else on the block.

There’s no way not to get lost in the array of objects scattered throughout. I got nervous, thinking maybe if I knocked over a roll of toilet paper or put my thumb on some dust, that I’d be screwing up an artwork. It’s hard to tell what’s art or not in the installation, and that makes for a pretty enjoyable ride, even if you’re left empty at the end.

We don’t want to give you too many details about Stray Light Grey, but just so you know how gonzo this exhibition truly is, we’ve given you a slideshow with dozens of images. All photos courtesy of Anthony Espino.



Jeb Gleason-Allured September 24, 2012 at 2:31 pm

While no simple, linear narrative arose for me during a walk through, it was clear this installation is obsessed with the ways in which people modify themselves — philosophically, surgically, pharmaceutically, etc. Everything from nerve-splicing gel to faux psychological texts seemed to provide a terrifying sense of the unlimited ways in which humans try to remake themselves and others, even as the artists transformed a bland corporate gallery into a multilayered experience, one space opening upon another like a dream. The effect took a while to wear off.

david Kennedy-Cutler September 25, 2012 at 12:25 pm

The Marfa exhibition was actually called “Hello Meth Lab in The Sun”, an obvious reference to Neil Young

M b. September 25, 2012 at 6:55 pm

“…even if you’re left empty at the end.” Please explain.

Corinna Kirsch September 26, 2012 at 10:39 am

Have you ever had a super size Diet Coke? It’s like that, when you think you’re full, but really it’s just because your stomach now has 64 ounces of bubbles inside it.

But really, at Marlborough, you go through all these rooms that show culture in disarray, but you’re not given a sense of what to do with these ruins after you leave. Overall, the exhibition is fun to look at, but is it deep? I’m not so sure.

Makana McDonald October 9, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Does art have to be deep to leave you satisfied? If an exhibit is fun, and gives the viewer a sense of exploration and adventure, that’s enough to satisfy me. I find it enjoyable to go for a walk in the city at night, despite the fact that I’m never “given a sense of what to do with” the lights, the architecture, and the scenery that I’ve just experienced. I’d certainly approach this exhibition in the same manner. I’m all for art that’s deep, but I’m entirely against treating art as something that is REQUIRED to be deep in order to be “good.”

New York...been around a few October 6, 2012 at 1:40 am

Seriously…No mention of Mike Nelson?! Is there no shame in this town anymore?

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